Virginia Decriminalizes Jaywalking

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A new law in Virginia will allow pedestrians to jaywalk without risking being stopped for a fine.

Jaywalking will still be illegal, but it will drop to a secondary offense, meaning offenders would have to be ticketed by a police officer for another reason.

“We’re essentially decriminalizing jaywalking and saying that you can no longer be stopped just for not crossing in the designated crosswalk,” said Delegate Patrick Hope.

Hope, who represents Arlington, sponsored the legislation that has been signed into law and will take effect March 1.

“In many instances, it’s safer to cross a street before you reach a dangerous intersection,” he said.

Advocates of the law say it also will cut down on unnecessary interactions between police and citizens that could take a turn for the worse in some cases.  

“Pulling over someone for jaywalking is a little bit ridiculous,” pedestrian Kwe Parker said. “I just honestly think it’s such a petty thing to be pulling people over for or heckling people for. I think there are other issues going on that should have much more priority over that.”

Others don’t agree with the change.

“We don’t have that right to walk around the streets,” pedestrian Sadaf Sadaat said. “People are supposed to respect the law. The laws make our life better and easier.”

Some experts say the new jaywalking regulation could be a step toward changes across the country.

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