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Virginia Traffic Laws – Aggressive Versus Improper Versus Reckless Driving

DefenseLaw

The Commonwealth of Virginia has laws against many types of traffic violations, including aggressive, improper, and reckless driving. Although these offenses share similarities, they are distinct violations with separate penalties. To understand the differences between aggressive, improper, and reckless driving, the following sections will explain several Virginia statutes.

Aggressive Driving Under Virginia Law

The state laws against aggressive driving appear at Code of Virginia Section 46.2-868.1. Under this section, it is illegal to create a hazard by committing any two of the following traffic offenses in the same course of conduct:

  • Exceeding the applicable speed limit;
  • Unlawful stopping on highways, in violation of Code of Virginia Section 46.2-888;
  • Improper passing or overtaking other vehicles, in violation of Code of Virginia Section 46.2-843;
  • Failing to give way to overtaking vehicles on divided highways, in violation of Code of Virginia Section 46.2-842.1;
  • Failing to give way to overtaking vehicles, in violation of Code of Virginia Section 46.2-842;
  • Improper passing of other vehicles on the right side, in violation of Code of Virginia Section 46.2-841;
  • Unlawful passing of other vehicles, in violation of Code of Virginia Section 46.2-838;
  • Evading of traffic control devices, in violation of Code of Virginia Section 46.2-833.1;
  • Failing to yield right-of-way on certain highways, in violation of Code of Virginia Section 46.2-821;
  • Following other vehicles at unsafe distance, in violation of Code of Virginia Section 46.2-816;
  • Failing to observe marked traffic lanes, in violation of Code of Virginia Section 46.2-804; or
  • Driving on the wrong side of highways, in violation of Code of Virginia Section 46.2-802.

Under Section 46.2-868.1, aggressive driving is usually charged as a Class 2 misdemeanor. Upon conviction, the punishment can include a jail sentence of up to six months and criminal fines up to $1,000.

That being said, aggressive driving that includes an intent to injure is typically charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Upon conviction, the punishment can include a jail sentence of up to 12 months and criminal fines up to $2,500.

Improper Driving Under Virginia Law

The state laws against improper driving appear at Code of Virginia Section 46.2-869. Improper driving under this section is effectively reckless driving. Section 46.2-869 does allow for diminished criminal liability for reckless driving, if the offense demonstrated a low degree of culpability. In these cases, the offender can face charges for improper driving, instead of more severe charges for reckless driving.

Under Section 46.2-869, improper driving is normally charged as a traffic infraction punishable by a maximum fine of $500.

Reckless Driving Under Virginia Law

The state laws against reckless driving appear at Code of Virginia Section 46.2-852. Under this section, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle in a manner that threatens the safety of other people or property.

The penalties for reckless driving appear at Code of Virginia Section 46.2-868. Under this section, reckless driving is ordinarily charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Upon conviction, this Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable in the same way described above.

If reckless driving is the sole and proximate cause of a fatality, however, it is usually charged as a Class 6 felony. Upon conviction, the punishment can include a prison sentence of 12 to 60 months and criminal fines up to $2,500.

Let Us Help You Today

The Leesburg reckless driving attorneys at Simms Showers LLP can help you fight your criminal charges. Reach out to us today for help.

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