What constitutes reckless driving in Virginia?

On Behalf of | Feb 19, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Most people accused of violating traffic laws in Virginia receive tickets. Police officers draft citations that impose a financial penalty for exceeding the posted speed limit or otherwise failing to follow the law. Most drivers handle traffic violations by paying the fine and accepting the secondary consequences, including insurance penalties.

Sometimes motorists benefit from fighting against the allegations that they violated traffic laws in Virginia. Those accused of reckless driving face a misdemeanor criminal charge, not just a traffic ticket. This violation could show up during background checks performed by employers and could affect someone’s life in more ways than a simple ticket might.

What behavior might constitute reckless driving in Virginia?

The main definition is somewhat vague

The primary statute about reckless driving in Virginia leaves much to the discretion of the officer who witnessed the incident. Regardless of the posted speed limit, someone could face charges of reckless driving when they operate at a dangerous speed or in a way that could endanger the life, limb or property of other people.

The law then goes on to expand on certain secondary situations that might constitute reckless driving as well. Those driving scenarios include:

  • passing at the crest of the hill or on a curve
  • passing a stopped school bus
  • driving a vehicle with faulty brakes
  • driving when unable to see the road or manage the vehicle
  • passing two vehicles abreast, unless one is a bicycle or similar vehicle
  • passing at a railroad crossing
  • failing to signal to others
  • failing to yield right of way to first responders
  • failing to reduce speed when approaching stationary vehicles
  • exceeding the posted speed limit by 20 miles an hour or more or driving at 85 miles an hour or more regardless of the speed limit
  • racing

Depending on the severity of the traffic infraction and the consequences for others, a person accused of reckless driving could very well end up paying a large fine and could be at risk of licensing penalties. The violation could also significantly increase what they pay for liability insurance.

Those accused of reckless driving often have options for defending against those allegations. Understanding what conduct triggered the charges, and discussing it with a lawyer, could help people better defend themselves when accused of driving in a dangerous and unsafe manner in Virginia.

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