Virginia Adds a New Category to Reckless Driving Offenses
Virginia will add a new type of driving conduct to its long list of reckless driving offenses, according to an article by WTOP. After July 1st, any drivers who fail to yield or slow down for emergency vehicles will be subject to criminal charges for reckless driving.
At present, failing to yield to police or other emergency vehicles is usually a traffic offense in Virginia. Once this new law takes effect, however, drivers will face more severe penalties if they do not slow down or yield in these circumstances.
In order to make sense of this new law, it feels appropriate to review the Virginia statutes that deal with failing to yield to emergency vehicles and reckless driving penalties.
Yielding to Police & Emergency Vehicles
Under Code of Virginia Section 46.2-921.1, all drivers must yield or slow down when approaching police and other emergency vehicles. Drivers approaching such vehicle with flashing emergency lights must:
- Yield the right-of-way by changing lanes, if reasonable and safe; or
- Proceed with caution at a safe and reasonable speed.
In most cases, Section 921.1 classifies a failure to yield or slow down for emergency vehicles as a traffic infraction. Charges for this infraction do not become criminal, except in cases of repeat offenders.
In more severe cases, Section 921.1 grants the Maryland state courts discretion to order driver’s license suspension or revocation. Specifically, a violation of this section that results in:
- Property Damage — Allows the court to order driver’s license suspension for up to 12 months;
- Injury to a Person — Allows the court to order driver’s license suspension for up to 24 months; or
- Death of a Person — Allows the court to order driver’s license suspension for a period of two years.
Penalties for Reckless Driving
Under Code of Virginia Section 46.2-868, reckless driving is normally a Class 1 misdemeanor. Generally speaking, this level of misdemeanor is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and $2,500 in criminal fines.
On the other hand, reckless driving can become a Class 6 felony. In these cases, the reckless driving offender generally faces up to five years in prison and $2,500 fines.
Though these higher-level charges are only applicable when a person:
- Operates a vehicle on a suspended or revoked driver’s license;
- Commits reckless driving; and
- Causes the death of another person.
Furthermore, a conviction for reckless driving generally results in a period of driver’s license suspension or revocation. Though the length of suspension or revocation often fluctuate based on the severity of the reckless driving offense in question.
Let us Help You Today
If need legal help with reckless driving or other criminal charges in Virginia, it is worthwhile to speak with an adept Leesburg criminal defense attorney. The attorneys at Simms Showers, LLP, servicing Leesburg, Winchester, Fairfax, and Manassas, feature proven competencies in criminal defense, including reckless driving and similar offenses. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free initial consultation.