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SIMMS SHOWERS LLP Leesburg & Loudoun County Attorney
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What Is The Intersection Of Reckless Driving & Speeding In Virginia?


Reckless driving operates as a basic catch-all offense under Virginia law. There is a general definition of what qualifies as reckless driving; in addition, Virginia law outlines numerous types of dangerous behaviors that also qualify as reckless driving. Particularly, there are two different ways that speeding can become reckless driving in Virginia. Before discussing the specific provisions on speeding, it will be helpful reviewing the overarching definition of reckless driving.

What is the Definition of Reckless Driving?

The state law against reckless driving appears at Code of Virginia Section 46.2-852. Under this section, it is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle in a reckless or dangerous fashion. The threshold for reckless driving is whether the driver operated their vehicle in a way that created a risk of property damage, physical injury, or death.

What is “Driving too Fast for Highway & Traffic Conditions”?

The state law against “driving too fast for highway and traffic conditions” appears at Code of Virginia Section 46.2-861. Under this section, drivers must maintain a reasonable speed when operating a motor vehicle, regardless of the legally posted speed limit. Any person who drives at an unreasonable speed — based on existing circumstances and traffic conditions — can face criminal charges for reckless driving.

What is “Exceeding Speed Limit”?

The state law against exceeding the speed limit appears at Code of Virginia Section 46.2-862. Under this section, drivers are prohibited from operating a motor vehicle:

  • 20 miles per hour or more over the legally posted speed limit; or
  • 85 miles per hour or more, no matter the legally posted speed limit.

Any person who violates this section can face criminal charges for reckless driving.

What are the Penalties for Reckless Driving?

The state penalties for reckless driving appear at Code of Virginia Section 46.2-868. Under this section, reckless driving is typically charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor.

If convicted of misdemeanor reckless driving, the punishment can involve up to $2,500 in criminal fines and a maximum sentence of 12 months in county jail.

That being said, it is possible to face felony charges for reckless driving under specific circumstances. If the charge of reckless driving was committed while driving with a suspended license and caused the death of another person, the charge becomes a Class 6 felony.

If convicted of felony reckless driving, the punishment can involve up to $2,500 in criminal fines and a prison sentence between 12 and 60 months.

Furthermore, Code of Virginia Section 46.2-393 establishes the possibility of driver’s license suspension for this offense. Upon conviction for reckless driving, the Virginia courts have the authority to apply a driver’s license suspension period of 60 days to six months. This discretionary suspension period applies to both misdemeanor and felony versions of reckless driving in Virginia.

Reach Out to Us Today for Help

If you need legal assistance with Virginia charges for reckless driving, contact the Leesburg reckless driving attorneys at Simms Showers LLP. We are prepared to assist you today.

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Simms Showers LLP is conveniently located two blocks from the Loudoun County Courthouse. Our criminal defense firm offers a free phone consultation for criminal or personal injury cases. Se habla español. Call Simms Showers LLP for quality legal counsel today at 703-997-7821 or contact us online.

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