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Does Failing To Give Proper Signals Qualify As Reckless Driving In Virginia?


Reckless driving in Virginia is a criminal offense that can result in severe criminal consequences. This offense involves a failure to safeguard other people or property from dangerous driving behavior. When a person drives their vehicle in a way that threatens the safety of others, reckless driving charges are likely appropriate under Virginia law.

In addition to this broad rule against reckless driving, there are more specific behaviors that qualify as reckless driving in Virginia. For example, drivers who fail to provide proper signals in various circumstances can face criminal charges for reckless driving.

What is Failing to Give Proper Signals in Virginia?

Code of Virginia Section 46.2-860 establishes the requirement for giving proper signals. Under this section, drivers must provide adequate and timely signals whenever they intend to:

  • Turn;
  • Partially turn;
  • Slow down; or
  • Stop.

In most cases, drivers can rely on the signal mechanisms built into their vehicle. Assuming these mechanisms are working properly, pressing down on the brake pedal will cause the brake lights to turn on. Similarly, engaging the turn signal in either direction will cause the appropriate turn signal to flash.

In the event that a vehicle’s signal mechanisms are not working, Code of Virginia Section 46.2-849 requires drivers to employ hand signals instead. In these situations, drivers must extend their arm out of the left side of their vehicle and:

  • To signal turning left, the arm should extend straight out horizontally, level with the shoulder;
  • To signal turning right, the arm should extend upward; and
  • To signal slowing down or stopping, the arm should extend downward.

Any driver who violates Section 46.2-860 by failing to give proper signals will likely face criminal charges for reckless driving.

What is the Penalty for Failing to Give Proper Signals?

Since a failure to give proper signals is considered reckless driving, the applicable punishment appears at Code of Virginia Section 46.2-868. This section details the punishment for all of the different versions of reckless driving offenses under Virginia law.

Under Section 46.2-868, the baseline charge for a reckless driving offense is usually a Class 1 misdemeanor. The Virginia punishment for this class of misdemeanor involves a maximum of 12 months in county jail and up to $2,500 in criminal fines.

On the other hand, certain reckless driving offenses can be charged as Class 6 felonies. The Virginia punishment for this class of felony involves one to five years in prison and up to $2,500 in criminal fines. The felony version of reckless driving only applies if the offender:

  • Commits reckless driving;
  • Has a suspended or revoked driver’s license; and
  • Causes the death of another person.

Reach Out to Us Today for Help

If you have legal questions about Virginia charges for reckless driving, we can help. Reach out to the Leesburg reckless driving attorneys Simms Showers LLP for assistance with your case.

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Simms Showers LLP is conveniently located two blocks from the Loudoun County Courthouse. Our criminal defense firm offers a free phone consultation for criminal or personal injury cases. Se habla español. Call Simms Showers LLP for quality legal counsel today at 703-997-7821 or contact us online.

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