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How Does Speeding In Virginia Become Reckless Driving?

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Many traffic violations in Virginia are basic civil offenses that normally result in a fine, including minor offenses like speeding tickets. That is not the case with reckless driving. This dangerous traffic violation can result in criminal fines and confinement. In certain speeding cases, there is a very fine line between reckless driving and a mere traffic violation.

What are the Virginia Laws Against Reckless Driving?

The state laws against reckless driving appear under Code of Virginia Section 46.2-852. This section makes it illegal to operate a motor vehicle in a dangerous or reckless fashion. The threshold for reckless driving in Virginia is based on whether a person creates an undue risk of property damage, physical injury, or death.

Beyond this broad prohibition against reckless driving, Virginia law also criminalizes other types of dangerous driving behaviors. For example, speeding can become reckless driving under certain circumstances.

When Does Speeding in Virginia Become Reckless Driving?

Typically, there are two situations in which speeding in Virginia becomes reckless driving.

First, driving too fast for highway or traffic conditions qualifies as reckless driving under Code of Virginia Section 46.2-861. This is a general rule that makes it unlawful to operate a motor vehicle at unreasonable speeds based on current conditions, regardless of the posted speed limit.

Second, excessive speeding qualifies as reckless driving under Code of Virginia Section 46.2-862. To qualify as excessive speeding, a person must operate a motor vehicle in excess of:

  • 20 miles per hour or more above the posted speed limit; or
  • 85 miles per hour, regardless of the posted speed limit.

What are the Virginia Penalties for Reckless Driving?

The state penalties for reckless driving appear under Code of Virginia Section 46.2-868. Usually, reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted, the punishment can include up to 12 months in jail and $2,500 in fines.

That being said, there is also a Class 6 felony version of reckless driving in Virginia. A punishment for this crime can include one to five years in prison and up to $2,500 in fines. The felony version of reckless driving only applies if the offender:

  • Commits reckless driving;
  • With a suspended or revoked license; and
  • Causes the death of another person.

Both the misdemeanor and felony versions of reckless driving are also generally subject to a period of license suspension. Under Code of Virginia Section 46.2-393, the applicable suspension period generally fluctuates from 60 days to six months.

Let Us Help You Today

If you have legal questions about reckless driving, speeding tickets, or other criminal offenses under Virginia law, it is important to contact a skilled Leesburg criminal defense attorney. Contact us today at Simms Showers LLP for help.

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