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Is Street Racing a Type of Reckless Driving in Virginia?


Reckless driving is a criminal offense in Virginia that involves dangerous driving behaviors that put people or property in harm’s way. On top of this general rule, Virginia also classifies other behaviors as reckless driving. One example of this is street racing, where drivers illegally challenge each other on the streets.

Virginia Law & Penalties Against Racing

As detailed in Code of Virginia Section 46.2-865, racing is considered a form of reckless driving under state law. In order to qualify as a violation of this section, the following elements are required:

  • A race between at least two motor vehicles; and
  • On any highway within the Commonwealth; or
  • On any driveway or property of a church, school, recreational facility, or business open to the public.

There is an important exception to Section 46.2-865. If the owner of the driveway or property in question authorizes a race to occur, it does not qualify as a violation.

Any person who violates Section 46.2-865 is guilty of the racing version of reckless driving. In most circumstances, that person will face Class 1 misdemeanor charges. If convicted on those charges, the maximum punishment includes $2,500 in fines and 12 months in county jail.

In addition, any person who commits the racing version of reckless driving will face mandatory suspension of driving privileges. The applicable suspension period under Section 46.2-865 can range from six months to two years.

Causing Injury or Death While Racing

As provided in Code of Virginia Section 46.2-865.1, there are increased penalties for racing offenses that involve physical injury or death. This section only applies if the offender acted in gross or wanton manner that indicated a reckless disregard for human life.

Any person who violates Section 46.2-865.1 will face felony charges, though the exact nature of the punishment changes based on the circumstances of the offense. For example, racing offenses that involved:

  • Physical Injury — Result in Class 6 felony charges and a maximum punishment of $2,500 in fines and five years in prison; or
  • Death — Result in felony charges and a maximum punishment of criminal fines and 20 years in prison.

In addition, any person who violates Section 46.2-865.1 will face mandatory suspension of driving privileges. The applicable suspension period under Section 46.2-865 can range from one to three years.

Seizure of Vehicles Involved in Racing

As explained in Code of Virginia Section 46.2-867, racing offenses are also subject to vehicle seizure and forfeiture. This requirement applies to the driver of any vehicle involved in racing — as well as the owner, if they knowingly consented to the racing offense in question. Vehicle seizure and forfeiture are penalties that apply in this case, in addition to any other legal penalties.

Contact Us Today for Help

If you have legal questions about reckless driving, it can be highly constructive to contact an experienced Winchester reckless driving attorney. The attorneys at Simms Showers LLP have more than 140 years of combined legal experience and a particular focus on criminal defense charges like reckless driving. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free initial consultation.


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Contact the Leesburg, Winchester & Loudoun County Attorneys of Simms Showers LLP today

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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