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Loudoun County Attorneys > Blog > Reckless Driving > Is It Reckless Driving In Virginia To Fail To Yield Right-Of-Way?

Is It Reckless Driving In Virginia To Fail To Yield Right-Of-Way?


Reckless driving is a criminal offense under the Virginia Criminal Code. A person commits reckless driving if they operate a motor vehicle in a way that threatens the safety of other people or property.

On top of this general prohibition against dangerous driving conduct, there are other versions of reckless driving under Virginia law. More specifically, there are times when failing to yield right-of-way can result in reckless driving charges.

What are the Virginia Laws Against Failing to Yield Right-of-Way?

The laws against failing to yield right-of-way appear at Code of Virginia Section 46.2-863. This section requires all drivers to yield right-of-way by stopping their vehicle before entering a highway from a side road. This rule only applies, though, when there is approaching traffic within 500 feet of the entrance in question.

Any driver who fails to yield right-of-way in this manner is guilty of reckless driving.

Are There Special Rules for Failing to Yield Right-of-Way to Emergency Vehicles?

In addition to the requirements above, Code of Virginia Section 46.2-861.1 also provides special rules for yielding right-of-way to emergency vehicles. In these situations, Section 46.2-861.1 requires drivers to:

  • Change lanes and provide at least one lane of distance, if traveling on a highway with at least two lanes of traffic in each direction; or
  • Proceed with due caution and maintain a safe speed, if changing lanes would be unreasonable or unsafe.

It is worth highlighting that Section 46.2-861.1 only applies to emergency vehicles that are stationary and displaying flashing, blinking, or alternating lights. These lights must be blue, red, or amber in color, in accordance with:

  • Code of Virginia Section 46.2-1022;
  • Code of Virginia Section 46.2-1023;
  • Code of Virginia Section 46.2-1024; or
  • Code of Virginia Section 46.2-1026.

Any driver who fails to yield right-of-way in violation of Section 46.2-861.1 is guilty of reckless driving.

How Does Virginia Punish Failure to Yield Right-of-Way?

When failure to yield right-of-way becomes reckless driving, the offense is punishable under Code of Virginia Section 46.2-868. This section categorizes reckless driving as a Class 1 misdemeanor in many cases. The statutory punishment for this class of misdemeanor includes a maximum of $2,500 in criminal fines and 12 months in county jail.

That being said, reckless driving can become a Class 6 felony with a potential penalty of $2,500 in criminal fines and one to five years in prison. Though this heightened charge only applies if a person:

  • Commits reckless driving on suspended or revoked license; and
  • Causes the death of a victim.

Contact Us Today for Help

If you need legal assistance, don’t hesitate to contact a Leesburg reckless driving attorney at Simms Showers LLP for help. Our team can offer you an initial consultation on your case.

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