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Loudoun County Attorneys > Blog > Reckless Driving > Legal Primer: Reckless Driving Under Virginia Criminal Law

Legal Primer: Reckless Driving Under Virginia Criminal Law


In the interest of public health and safety, the Commonwealth of Virginia imposes strict rules and regulations for driving conduct. Accordingly, Virginia laws against reckless driving impose severe penalties for dangerous driving conduct, including, but not necessarily limited to: confinement, fines, and license suspension.

What is Reckless Driving in Virginia?

Code of Virginia Section 46.2-852 establishes the general rule against reckless driving. Under this section, a driver commits a reckless driving offense if they create a risk of damage to property or injury to another person. This broad rule encompasses many different types of driving conduct, as explained below.

What Are Other Types of Reckless Driving in Virginia?

In addition to the broad rule described above, Virginia law also defines various types of conduct that also qualify as reckless driving. For example, an offense qualifies as reckless driving if a person violates:

  • Code of Virginia Section 46.2-855, by operating a vehicle with an obstructed vehicle or impaired control, due to overloading, passengers, or other factors;
  • Code of Virginia Section 46.2-859, by passing or overtaking a school bus that is picking up or dropping off passengers;
  • Code of Virginia Section 46.2-860, by failing to use vehicle signals properly when turning, braking, or stopping;
  • Code of Virginia Section 46.2-861, by driving at an unreasonable speed considering highway, weather, or other conditions; or
  • Code of Virginia Section 46.2-862, by driving more than 20 miles per hour above the speed limit or 80 miles per hour anywhere in the commonwealth.

How Does Virginia Penalize Reckless Driving?

Code of Virginia Section 46.2-868 highlights the penalties for reckless driving. Under most circumstances, this offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted for this misdemeanor version of reckless driving, an offender can face up to $2,500 in criminal fines and 12 months in county jail.

On the other hand, sometimes, reckless driving can turn into a Class 6 felony. This applies when a person commits reckless driving and causes a fatality, while driving on a suspended or revoked license. If convicted for the felony version of reckless driving, an offender can face up to $2,500 in criminal fines and 1 to 5 years of prison time.

Furthermore, Code of Virginia Section 46.2-392 requires all reckless driving offenders to surrender their driver’s license. The mandatory period of driver’s license suspension varies based on the circumstances of the offense. Reckless driving offenses typically result in a suspension period from 10 days to  6 months.

Let Us Help You Today

If you have legal questions about reckless driving in Virginia, it can be decidedly productive to speak with an adept criminal defense attorney. The Winchester reckless driving attorneys at Simms Showers LLP have defended clients against numerous criminal charges, including reckless driving and related offenses. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free initial consultation.


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