Is It Illegal to Tailgate Behind another Car in Virginia?

Jun 14, 2023 | Auto Accidents

Following too closely in Virginia is a traffic infraction punishable by a fine beginning at $81. Tailgating in Virginia is not only a moving traffic violation that could result in demerit points on your driver’s license, but is also dangerous to drivers and passengers on the road, including the tailgater. When you’re behind the wheel, it is wise to follow the rules by driving at a safe distance behind the cars and trucks in front of you.

Penalties for Tailgating in Virginia

Penalties for tailgating in Virginia include fines and points. If the police give you a ticket or conviction, penalties include:

  • A fine between $81 and the maximum allowable fine of $250
  • Up to $500 in fines if the incident occurred in a highway safety corridor
  • Four points on your driver’s license
  • Three years with the offense on your driving record
  • Civil liability in a personal injury claim if you caused an accident by tailgating
  • Court costs to fight the ticket


Following too closely and causing an accident can come with high costs. If you were injured in an accident caused by a tailgater, your personal injury attorney can use the driver’s criminal conviction to support your injury claim.

What Is a Safe Distance to Follow Another Vehicle?

There are a few rules that describe a safe following distance from the vehicle in front of you. Some rules to consider when determining a safe distance to follow include:

  • Car length rule. For every ten miles per hour you’re traveling at speed, leave that many car lengths between you and the car ahead of you. For example, 50 mph = 5 car lengths.
  • 10-foot rule. For every 10 miles per hour you’re traveling, leave 10 feet between you and the car ahead. 50 mph = 50 feet.
  • Three-second rule. Maintain a stopping distance of three seconds between you and the vehicle ahead of you when road conditions and traffic patterns allow. Increase your stopping distance to four or five seconds in poor weather or road conditions.


Each of these rules demonstrates the stopping distance required for most vehicles in “normal situations” while following the speed limit. In instances where the road conditions aren’t good or the weather is bad, you should increase the space between your car and the car ahead of you to a safe distance for stopping.

Can Tailgating Lead to Accidents?

Tailgating in Virginia can lead to accidents. Some people follow too closely because they’re impatient, they’re running late to work, or they’re tailgating due to road rage. 

The most common accident due to tailgating is a rear-end collision. You can try to avoid an accident with someone tailgating you by:

  • Follow the speed limit or keeping pace with traffic around you
  • Not engaging with the tailgating driver
  • Don’t brake check the driver following too closely
  • Move into another lane to avoid the tailgater
  • Allow the driver to pass by pulling over if necessary
  • Use turn signals and braking slowly to make your intentions known


Your safety is your top priority when driving. Engaging with a tailgating driver or brake checking them can lead to a dangerous road rage incident.

When you notice a driver following you too closely, don’t let it distract you from maintaining a safe distance with the motor vehicles ahead of you. Watching your rear-view mirror too much could distract you from vehicles stopping for a red light or another road hazard.

Injured in a Tailgating Accident? Contact a Personal Injury Attorney in Virginia

Tailgating in Virginia is illegal and can lead to accidents and injuries. If you suffered an injury in an accident caused by a tailgating driver, contact us at Geoff McDonald & Associates. We have offices in Virginia Beach and Richmond, VA. Call us today at 804-888-8888 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with an injury attorney.

Geoff McDonald and Associates: 804-888-8888.


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