Reckless Driving versus Aggressive Driving in Virginia
Our topic of discussion today is how Virginia differentiates between reckless driving and aggressive driving. We will cover the basic elements of each crime as well as the corresponding penalties.
What is the Virginia Legal Approach to Reckless Driving?
Code of Virginia section 46.2-852 provides the overarching definition of reckless driving. There are two elements to this crime. The first element concerns the highway. Reckless driving can only occur on the highway. The second element concerns conduct. Reckless driving involves conduct that puts other people or property in danger.
Code of Virginia section 46.2-862 provides another aspect of reckless driving that concerns speeding. There are two variations. The first variation involves driving more than 20 miles per hour above the speed limit on the highway. The second variation involves driving more than 80 miles per hour on the highway.
What are the Penalties for Reckless Driving in Virginia?
Code of Virginia section 46.2-868 provides a breakdown of the penalties for reckless driving. On the lower end of the spectrum, reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries the potential for $2,500 in fines, six months of driver’s license suspension, and 12 months in jail.
On the higher end of the spectrum, reckless driving can become a Class 6 felony in specific situations. For example, if a driver has a suspended license, drives recklessly and kills someone else, then it is a Class 6 felony. In such situations, there is a maximum sentence of one to five years in prison and up to $2,500 in fines.
What is the Virginia Legal Approach to Aggressive Driving?
Code of Virginia section 46.2-868.1 provides the overarching definition of aggressive driving. There are two elements to this crime. The first element involves conduct with the intent to “harass, intimidate, injure or obstruct” another person.
The second element of aggressive driving involves one or more specific traffic violations of the Code of Virginia, including:
- 2-802 (Drive on right side of highways);
- 2-804 (Failure to observe lanes marked for traffic);
- 2-816 (Following too closely);
- 2-821 (Vehicles before entering certain highways shall stop or yield right-of-way);
- 2-833.1 (Evasion of traffic control devices);
- 2-838 (Passing when overtaking a vehicle);
- 2-841 (When overtaking vehicle may pass on right);
- 2-842 (Driver to give way to overtaking vehicle);
- 2-842.1 (Driver to give way to certain overtaking vehicles on divided highway);
- 2-843 (Limitations on overtaking and passing);
- 2-870 (Maximum speed limits); or
- 2-888 (Stopping on highways).
What are the Penalties for Aggressive Driving in Virginia?
Code of Virginia section 46.2-868.1 also provides a breakdown of the penalties for aggressive driving. Generally speaking, aggressive driving is a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by six months in jail and $1,000 in fines. But if a person commits aggressive driving with the intent to injure someone else, then the crime rises to the level of Class 1 misdemeanor. Additionally, the court has discretion to require completion of an educational program on aggressive driving.
Contact Us Today for Help
The criminal justice system can be terrifying. With the prospect of harsh penalties and even jail time, there is no margin for error. After all, your liberty may be at stake. But with an experienced criminal defense attorney as your advocate, you will have a guide to explain the process and ensure an aggressive defense.
If you have questions about reckless driving, aggressive driving or other criminal offenses, please feel free to contact Simms Showers LLP at your earliest convenience. We make it easy to stop by for an in-person visit. We are also available by calling 703-771-4671 or by filling out a simple form online.