What is Virginia Reckless Driving Law?

Virginia reckless driving law

Virginia reckless driving law

Virginia reckless driving law is codified in the Code of Virginia, § 46.2-852 through § 46.2-869Virginia reckless driving law can be separated into 14 different reckless driving laws, plus aggressive driving and improper driving. Improper driving is not reckless driving, but it is a reduced charge that started as reckless driving.

Reckless driving law in Virginia has a few specific reckless driving laws that get charged with MUCH greater frequency than others. By far, the most commonly written Virginia reckless driving law is reckless driving by speed in Virginia. As you will see later, reckless driving by speed in Virginia is defined as driving IN EXCESS OF 80 MPH or driving 20 MPH or MORE OVER THE LIMIT. Many people drive over 80 mph on the interstate in Virginia. Little do most of them know that it is reckless driving in Virginia to do that. Once you drive 81 mph, even in a 70 mph zone, it is Virginia reckless driving by speed. For this reason, it is the most commonly written Virginia reckless driving law.

Reckless driving general is the second most common Virginia reckless driving law. As its name implies, this Virginia reckless driving law covers a wide range of actions. The legal standard the Commonwealth of Virginia needs to prove is endangerment to life, limb, or property. While that sounds like a high legal standard, spinning tires on the pavement has been held to violation this Virginia reckless driving law. Leavitt & Martin has successfully handled thousands of reckless driving, DUI, speeding, and other traffic tickets. We specialize in traffic law.

Actual Virginia Reckless Driving Law

Here is a list of every Virginia reckless driving law that is currently codified in the Virginia code. There are essentially 14 Virginia laws on reckless driving, although racing has additional subsets as racing is more serious.

Virginia Reckless Driving Law: § 46.2-852. Reckless driving; general rule.

This is the Virginia reckless general rule. It is one of the most commonly written charges in Virginia for reckless driving. At Leavitt & Martin, we specialize in Virginia traffic law and this is commonly written as an accident, or peeling your tires, or where a DUI is amended to reckless driving. All Virginia reckless driving law has to reach the level where the driving behavior endangers life, limb or property.

Improper driving in Virginia is a lesser charge that is included in this. If you are charged with general Virginia reckless driving under this law, then the judge or prosecutor can amend the charge to improper driving. Of course, a dismissal is always possible as well, but improper driving is also helpful when you cannot get the charge dismissed.

Virginia Reckless Driving Law: § 46.2-853. Driving vehicle which is not under control; faulty brakes.

This Virginia reckless driving law is commonly written, and almost exclusively where there is an accident. In fact, I don’t think I have seen this charged where there is no accident. Virginia State Police, and local law enforcement commonly write this ticket for accident cases. Many times, the case can get dismissed. The driving behavior must endanger life, limb or property.

Falling asleep is technically reckless driving in Virginia law. Even these cases can often be reduced or dismissed. Many times the Commonwealth cannot prove these cases beyond a reasonable doubt. In most cases, the law enforcement officer never witnesses the accident, and there are usually no witnesses in court. It is usually the defendant’s own statements that hurt the most.

If you are involved in an accident in Virginia, it is often best to simply assert your right to remain silent. You have no duty to make statements to the police. Police often push, and pressure people to make statements but it is usually best to make no statements at all. Leavitt & Martin has close to a 100 percent dismissal rate where there were no statements made to the police for reckless driving accidents under this Virginia reckless driving law.

Virginia Reckless Driving Law: § 46.2-854. Passing on or at the crest of a grade or on a curve.

Again, all Virginia reckless driving law requires that the driving behavior must endanger life, limb, or property. This Virginia reckless driving law is RARELY written.

Virginia Reckless Driving Law: § 46.2-855. Driving with driver’s view obstructed or control impaired.

This Virginia reckless driving law is pretty clear. No pun intended. You have to drive with an unobstructed view. This law is very rarely charged.

Virginia Reckless Driving Law: § 46.2-856. Passing two vehicles abreast.

This is an interesting law. Many police officers wrongly believe that “two vehicles abreast” means one in front of the other. So I often see this charged where someone passes two vehicles at a time but they are positioned one in front of the other. Abreast means side by side, and not one in front of the other. So as long as someone observes the speed limit laws, and makes a safe pass you can pass two vehicles legally in Virginia that are driving one in front of the other. It is illegal, and a violation of this Virginia reckless driving law, if the vehicles you pass are positioned SIDE BY SIDE, or abreast of each other.

Virginia Reckless Driving Law: § 46.2-857. Driving two abreast in a single lane.

I have never seen this statute charged, but I am sure it has been charged somewhere. Motorcycles in Virginia are not allowed to ride side by side in the same lane. That is most likely where you would see this charged.

Virginia Reckless Driving Law: § 46.2-858. Passing at a railroad grade crossing.

Virginia Reckless Driving Law: § 46.2-859. Passing a stopped school bus; prima facie evidence.

This Virginia reckless driving law was amended several years ago due to creative lawyering. An attorney got a charge dismissed based on the wording of this law. Many school bus operators have a camera and you can get a camera ticket for this. However, if you get a camera ticket it is a traffic infraction and not a misdemeanor.

If you read this law, there are many specific rules about what defines a school bus, relating to the lettering on the bus, etc. There may be a legal defense to this charge revolving around the definition of school bus.

Virginia Reckless Driving Law: § 46.2-860. Failing to give proper signals.

Reckless Driving Law: § 46.2-861. Driving too fast for highway and traffic conditions.

Driving too fast for highway conditions is frequently charged with accident cases in rain or snowy conditions. Some judges take a broad view with this charge. You do not have to be driving above the speed limit to get this charge. Usually law enforcement use this Virginia reckless driving law when there is an accident in bad weather.

Many accident cases are dismissed in weather related conditions. It is hard to fault someone for losing control of their vehicle just based on weather conditions alone. However, many law enforcement officers do write this ticket for Virginia reckless driving law, driving too fast for highway and traffic conditions when there are weather conditions such as snow, ice, fog, or rain that contribute to the accident.

Virginia Reckless Driving Law: § 46.2-862. Exceeding speed limit.

Reckless driving by speed is the most commonly written charge in Virginia, by far. I have personally defended thousands of clients charged with this Virginia reckless driving law. Under this reckless definition, you only have to drive EITHER 20 mph or more over the limit OR in excess of 80 mph. So you can violate this Virginia reckless driving law in one of two ways:

  1. driving over 80 mph, so 81 mph in a 70 zone is reckless driving, OR
  2. driving 20 mph or more over the limit so 50 mph in a 30 mph zone is reckless driving

There is no statutorily increased penalty for driving 90 mph in a 70 (which violates both sections of this law at the same time) HOWEVER most judges treat high speeds like 90 mph and up MUCH different than lower speeds.

In addition, high speed differentials that are 25 mph and more over the speed limit are also treated more severely. At Leavitt & Martin, we are traffic specialists and we personally handle our own cases. Our case results speak for themselves:


Virginia Reckless Driving Law: § 46.2-863. Failure to yield right-of-way.

This charge is often brought with an accident. Drivers may not be looking, or may not know that another driver has the right of way. If this results in an accident, this charge is often brought.

Virginia Reckless Driving Law: § 46.2-864. Reckless driving on parking lots, etc.

Virginia Reckless Driving Law: § 46.2-865. Racing; penalty.

Virginia Reckless Driving Law: § 46.2-865.1. Injuring another or causing the death of another while engaging in a race; penalties.

Virginia Reckless Driving Law: § 46.2-866. Racing; aiders or abettors.

Virginia Reckless Driving Law: § 46.2-867. Racing; seizure of motor vehicle.

Virginia Reckless Driving Law: § 46.2-868. Reckless driving; penalties.

§ 46.2-868.1. Aggressive driving; penalties.

§ 46.2-869. Improper driving; penalty.

Improper driving is a minor traffic infraction, and it is punished with a maximum fine of $500 and no license suspension or jail time. In addition, it is not a criminal misdemeanor. You can read more about improper driving here.

Leavitt & Martin Are Specialists in Virginia Reckless Driving Law

Virginia reckless driving law

Virginia reckless driving law

Daniel Leavitt and Corey Martin personally handle our own cases. We do not have any low level associate lawyers. We handle our cases in court, and we get the best outcome possible. Our case results speak for themselves.

Over the years, we have successfully handled thousands of cases. We specialize in reckless driving, speeding, DUI, and other traffic charges. Call today to speak with Daniel Leavitt or Corey Martin at 804-873-4004.

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