Virginia Laws Against Aggressive, Improper & Reckless Driving
The Commonwealth of Virginia has a vested interest in promoting safe driving on all highways and other roads within state boundaries. When drivers operate their vehicles dangerously, or even recklessly, it can result in harm to other people or property damage. Consequently, Virginia law prohibits any person from engaging in aggressive, improper, or reckless driving.
The definition of aggressive driving appears under Code of Virginia Section 46.2-868.1. A driver commits aggressive driving when they meet two separate conditions. First, the driver must demonstrate an intent to harass, intimidate, obstruct, or injure another person.
Second, the driver in question must also commit one or more of the following offenses:
- Driving on the wrong side of the highway;
- Failing to observe marked traffic lanes;
- Tailgating or following closely behind other vehicles;
- Neglecting to stop or yield the right-of-way upon entering certain highways;
- Evading traffic control devices;
- Exceeding legally posted speed limits;
- Stopping a vehicle on the highway without cause; or
- Various instances of improperly passing or overtaking other vehicles.
Any person who violates Section 46.2-868.1 is normally guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor. If convicted, the maximum sentence can include six months in county jail and $1,000 in criminal fines.
If, however, a person commits aggressive driving and demonstrates an intent to commit physical injury, they are guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted, the maximum sentence can include 12 months in county jail and $2,500 in criminal fines.
Furthermore, a conviction for aggressive driving also results in license suspension under Code of Virginia Section 46.2-392. The applicable suspension period depends on the circumstances of the case, and usually ranges from 10 days to six months.
The definition of improper driving appears under Code of Virginia Section 46.2-869. Essentially, improper driving is a reduced version of reckless driving. When a person commits reckless driving — but their conduct was not extremely dangerous or reckless — then the Virginia courts can reduce the charge to improper driving.
This charge is purely discretionary. In other words, the Virginia courts are never obligated to reduce reckless driving to improper driving. If convicted for improper driving, it qualifies as a traffic infraction. The maximum penalty is typically a fine of up to $500.
The definition of reckless driving appears under Code of Virginia Section 46.2-852. Reckless driving occurs when a driver operates their vehicle in a way that endangers other people or property. Various types of other dangerous driving behavior — such as excessive speeding or passing a stopped school bus — also qualify as reckless driving in Virginia.
The punishment for reckless driving appears under Code of Virginia Section 46.2-868. Ordinarily, this offense qualifies as a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable as described previously. A reckless driver can face felony charges in certain cases that involved the death of a person.
As with aggressive driving, 46.2-392 requires driver’s license suspension for reckless driving offenses. The suspension period is normally the same, between 10 days and six months.
Let Us Help You Today
If you have legal questions about aggressive, improper, or reckless driving in Virginia, it can be demonstrably helpful to speak with a skilled criminal defense attorney. The Winchester reckless driving attorneys at Simms Showers LLP feature proven skill and experience in criminal defense, including aggressive, improper, and reckless driving. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free initial consultation.