Does Virginia Classify Racing as a Reckless Driving Offense?
From a general standpoint, reckless driving in Virginia is a criminal offense that involves a clear risk of physical harm or property damage. In addition to this overarching rule, Virginia law also labels specific types of dangerous driving conduct as reckless driving. One specific type of reckless driving is racing, which is a prearranged, organized, and planned competition between several vehicles.
What is the Racing Version of Reckless Driving?
As established in Code of Virginia Section 46.2-865, racing involves a speed competition between at least two vehicles. This section prohibits drivers from engaging in racing in specific locations, including:
- Public highways and roadways;
- Churches, schools, and recreational facilities; and
- Business premises open to the public.
On the other hand, Section 46.2-865 does outline an important exception to the Virginia laws against racing. If a person authorizes racing on their own property, it does not qualify as a violation of Section 46.2-865.
What is the Standard Punishment for Racing?
The punishment for racing appears under Code of Virginia Section 46.2-868, which provides the standard punishment for reckless driving offenses. Under this section, racing and other types of reckless driving are typically punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Upon conviction for this class of misdemeanor, a person can spend up to one year in jail and pay fines up to $2,500.
Additionally, Virginia law imposes a period of driver’s license suspension for any person who engages in racing. The standard suspension period for this offense is between six months and two years.
That being said, Virginia law does provide a separate penalty structure for any racing offense that results in physical injury to or the death of another person.
What Happens if Racing Results in Injury or Death?
Code of Virginia Section 46.2-865.1 establishes the punishment for any racing offense that involves a reckless disregard for human safety. This version of racing applies whenever the offense results in physical injury or death.
If a person commits racing and injures someone who was not involved in the race, it is a Class 6 felony under Section 46.2-865.1. If convicted, the offender can face a prison sentence between one and five years as well as $2,500 in criminal fines.
If a person commits racing and causes the death of another person, it remains a felony offense. But the prison sentence increases to a minimum of one year and a maximum of 20 years.
Whether racing results in physical injury or death, there is also a required period of driver’s license suspension. In these cases, Section 46.2-865.1 imposes a suspension period between one and three years.
Let Us Help You Today
If you have legal questions about racing or other versions of reckless driving in Virginia, it can be manifestly constructive to contact a qualified criminal defense attorney. The Winchester reckless driving attorneys at Simms Showers LLP have extensive knowledge about criminal defense in Virginia, including racing and other versions of reckless driving. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free initial consultation.