FAIRFAX COUNTY, VIRGINIA- A man from Centreville who crashed into a Virginia State Police car parked on Interstate 66 in April, causing Virginia State Trooper J.T. Mahalik to sustain severe personal injuries, has been handed a unique sentence. He has been sentenced to 45 days in jail and 100 hours of aiding state police with publicizing their “Move Over” campaign to remind drivers to steer away from police cars on the other side of highways.
The incident on April 30 in Fairfax County involving Trooper J.T. Mahalik was the first of many crashes involving drivers hitting or nearly hitting parked state troopers on major highways. No troopers were killed, but three incidents in less than two weeks resulted in state police commanders reviving the Move Over program to inform drivers of Virginia state law requiring them to change lanes away from emergency vehicles that have stopped or slow down and pass them with caution.
Violations of the Move Over Law, Virginia Code Section 46.2-921.1 law are misdemeanors that carry a punishment of up to 12 months in prison and a $2,500 fine. According to defense lawyers in Fairfax, more charges have been filed by local and state police since the revival of the Move Over campaign.
Thirty-four-year-old David Stout was not charged with failure to move over. He was charged with driving under the influence after his blood-alcohol content was measured at .13, well above the legal limit of .08.
On the day of the crash, 28-year-old Mahalik was sitting in his parked cruiser on I-66 with another driver he had just pulled over in the passenger seat of the vehicle, according to police. At approximately 12:45 a.m., Stout’s 2006 Saab crashed into the rear of Mahalik’s cruiser, which had its emergency lights on, according to police.
The impact resulted in the cruiser bursting into flames and Chad Roger-Steven, the man in Mahalik’s passenger seat, being knocked unconscious. Mahalik suffered injuries to his spine and burns to his legs, but was able to get out of the car and pull Roger-Steven to safety.