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Does Failing to Yield Right-of-Way Qualify as Reckless Driving in Virginia?


Under Virginia law, reckless driving is a traffic offense that prohibits certain types of dangerous driving behaviors. From a general standpoint, reckless driving occurs when a person operates a motor vehicle in a way that endangers other people or property. Any person who commits reckless driving in Virginia can face severe criminal punishment.

On top of the general rule, Virginia law also provides a number of specific behaviors that also qualify as reckless driving. For example, there are two circumstances in which failing to yield right-of-way can qualify as reckless driving.

Failure to Yield Right-of-Way

As outlined in Code of Virginia Section 46.2-863, drivers must yield right-of-way when entering a highway from a side road. This requirement applies when there is traffic approaching within 500 feet of the side road entrance to the highway in question. Any driver who fails to yield right-of-way in this situation is guilty of reckless driving and subject to the criminal punishment described below.

Failure to Yield Right-of-Way (Emergency Vehicles)

As established in Code of Virginia Section 46.2-861.1, drivers must yield right-of-way when approaching certain emergency vehicles. In this context, the term, “emergency vehicle” refers to stationary vehicles with flashing, blinking, or alternating lights of a blue, red, or amber color.

When drivers approach these stationary, emergency vehicles, they must:

  • Yield right-of-way by changing lanes, if doing so would be reasonable and safe; or
  • Proceed with due caution and at a safe speed, if changing lanes would be impossible or potentially dangerous.

Any driver who fails to yield right-of-way to stationary, emergency vehicles is guilty of reckless driving and subject to the criminal punishment described below.

Punishment for Failing to Yield Right-of-Way

As detailed in Code of Virginia Section 46.2-868, reckless driving is ordinarily a Class 1 misdemeanor. The maximum punishment for this type of misdemeanor includes $2,500 in criminal fines and up to one year in county jail.

In certain cases, however, reckless driving can be charged as a Class 6 felony if there is a fatality involved. The maximum punishment for this type of felony includes up to $2,500 in criminal fines and one to five years in prison.

On top of the statutory penalties above, reckless driving also includes a period of mandatory driver’s license suspension. As provided in Code of Virginia Section 46.2-392, the suspension period for reckless driving is typically 10 days to six months.

Let Us Help You Today

If you need legal help with charges for reckless driving or other crimes in Virginia, it can be manifestly constructive to discuss your situation with a talented Leesburg reckless driving attorneys. The attorneys at Simms Showers LLP have represented criminal defendants in thousands of jury trials, including reckless driving cases. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free initial consultation.


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