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Virginia Reckless Driving Laws

Fairfax County Courthouse, Sideview

Reckless driving in the Commonwealth of Virginia is a very serious offense which if convicted, could entail harsh fines, potential jail time, and the suspension or revocation of your driver's license. Reckless driving can be charged in a variety of circumstances and is usually related to driving at high speeds, accident cases, racing, or improper vehicle equipment. The Reckless Driving by Speed law in Virginia changed effective July 1, 2020.  If you are observed by a police officer driving over 85 MPH, or 20 MPH over the maximum speed limit (for example, driving 45 MPH in a 25 MPH zone) you could be charged with reckless driving. The offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia.

Examples of Reckless Driving

Reckless Driving can be charged under §46.2-859 when your vehicle passes a school bus while children, the elderly, or handicapped persons are boarding or exiting. The school bus must be clearly marked and discharging or loading passengers, not simply parked on the side of the road.  There are potential defenses to this charge, which may lead to it being dismissed or reduced to a lesser traffic infraction such as Improper Driving, a civil violation of Passing a School Bus with a civil assessment of $250, or some other traffic infraction like Failure to Pay Full Time and Attention (which does not go on the driving record).

Passing or overtaking an emergency vehicle responding to a call with active lights and sirens under Virginia Code §46.2-829 is considered reckless driving.  It carries a mandatory, minimum fine of $250 and is also a Class 1 misdemeanor. There is potential loss of license associated with this charge if convicted.  Often, the law office is able to get this charge amended to Failure to Obey a Highway Sign or some other traffic infraction that is not a criminal offense.  

§46.2-865 of the Virginia Code prohibits Racing between two or more vehicles in the state and imposes enhanced penalties for its violation.  It is still a misdemeanor, but the minimum license suspension period is six months.  The maximum license suspension period is two years.  The potential for jail time is increased when charged with this offense.  Attorney Yeargan has assisted juveniles and adults charged with this offense get it reduced to a non-criminal traffic infraction.   

If you or someone you know is facing one of these types of charges in the Commonwealth of Virginia, it is best to consult with a qualified and experienced legal professional.   The attorney can assist you with evaluating the charge and preparing a strategy to use in court.  With twenty-one years of experience defending clients charged with this crime, Attorney Yeargan has the experience and knowledge to help you obtain the best possible result in court. 

Being Charged With Reckless Driving - Accident Cases and High Speed Cases

Virginia statute §46.2-852 defines reckless driving as both willful unsafe driving, or neglectful driving, that "endangers life, limb, or property.'  This usually involves accident cases.  However, the existence of an accident is not proof of Reckless Driving.  The Powers case in Virginia is clear that the prosecution bears the burden beyond a reasonable doubt to prove the charge, either by statements made at the scene, witness testimony, video evidence, or other proof.  Accident cases charged under this law are more difficult to prove than other types of Reckless Driving cases. Attorney Yeargan has gotten many of these cases dismissed for lack of witness testimony and proof of driver error.

Virginia Code §46.2-862 applies in instances where a driver is caught traveling at excessive speeds, now over 85 MPH, or 20 MPH over any posted speed limit. The highest posted speed limit in the Commonwealth of Virginia is 70 MPH. In cases where a driver is caught traveling over 90 MPH, jail time could be possible if they are convicted of the charge. Attorney Yeargan recommends obtaining a speedometer calibration of your vehicle, completing a driver improvement course, and getting a copy of your driving record before the court date.  This can help the client avoid a high speed Reckless Driving conviction, and the enhanced penalties that apply to the charge.  Getting the charge dismissed or reduced to a non-criminal traffic infraction should be your goal in these situations.

Reckless driving charges also apply in cases where an operator's neglect has made their vehicle unsafe. This would apply in such cases where a car has inoperable brakes, or is overloaded with cargo to the point where the driver is unable to effectively see the road and cars around them.

Penalties for a Reckless Driving Conviction

The fines and penalties associated with a reckless driving conviction vary depending on the specific circumstances related to the charge in question. In many cases, a court will not impose the harshest fines possible unless the individual being charged has a history of reckless driving, driving while intoxicated, unsafe history while operating a motor vehicle, or if the individual charged has committed a particularly egregious offense. A skilled attorney may be able to have fines and penalties associated with a reckless driving conviction reduced, however if full penalties are levied against the defendant they can expect the following:

  • Fines of up to $2,500.
  • 6 points on your license.
  • For Commonwealth of Virginia residents: 6 month license suspension.
  • For out-of-state residents: driving suspension in Virginia for 6 months.

In addition to the penalties listed above, convicted drivers can expect higher insurance rates, and potentially negative effects on your ability to secure employment while barred from operating a motor vehicle. Those convicted may experience problems with security clearances and job applications.  For out-of-state residents, a reckless driving conviction in the Commonwealth of Virginia may also lead to the suspension of your driver's license in your home state.  For these reasons, the attorney works hard to avoid a Reckless Driving conviction for the client.  Getting it dismissed or reduced to a traffic infraction should be your goal!

Always Work With a Legal Professional

If you or someone you know is facing a reckless driving charge in the Commonwealth of Virginia, or you are searching for a reputable Fairfax traffic defense lawyer, contact The Law Office of Wilfred Ward Yeargan immediately. Convictions for reckless driving conviction stay on your driving record for 11 years, damaging you financially and impacting your daily life.  Attorney Yeargan can assist you possibly get the charged dismissed or reduced to a lesser traffic infraction.

Don't risk facing the maximum penalties for reckless driving, consult with a skilled traffic attorney to find out possible strategies to have your charges reduced or potentially dropped altogether. Contact The Law Office of Wilfred Ward Yeargan today for a free consultation to discuss the specifics of your case today.

Areas We Serve

We serve clients throughout Virginia including those in the following localities: Fairfax; Fairfax County including Annandale, Burke, Centreville, Herndon, and Vienna; Alexandria; Arlington County including Arlington; Falls Church; Fauquier County including Warrenton; Frederick County including Winchester; Fredericksburg; Loudoun County including Leesburg; Prince William County including Manassas; Spotsylvania County including Lake Wilderness and Spotsylvania Courthouse; Stafford County including Stafford; and Warren County including Front Royal.

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