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When Does A Street Race Become Reckless Driving In Virginia?


Within the domain of reckless driving under Virginia law, there are specific provisions dedicated to street racing. Any person who engages in a street race between at least two vehicles can face the standard charges and penalties for reckless driving, though in certain cases the punishment for street racing can exceed the statutory penalties for reckless driving.

What is the Virginia Definition of a Street Race?

The definition of a street race appears under Code of Virginia Section 46.2-865. This section prohibits any person from:

  • Engaging in a prearranged, organized, and planned speed competition between two or more motor vehicles;
  • On any highway or the premises of any publicly accessible business, church, school, or recreational facility; and
  • Acting without the consent or authorization of the property owner or their agent.

The consent requirement mentioned above is particularly important. If a property owner authorizes or otherwise consents to a street race, it may not qualify as reckless driving in Virginia.

How Does Virginia Punish Street Racing?

As street racing is a version of reckless driving, it features the same punishment. Namely, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor under Code of Virginia Section 46.2-868 to commit street racing or any other form of reckless driving.

Upon conviction for a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia, the maximum penalties can include $2,500 in criminal fines and a 12-month sentence in county jail.

That being said, Code of Virginia Section 46.2-865.1 establishes special penalties for certain street racing offenses. If a person engages in a street race and:

  • Inflicts serious bodily injury to an innocent bystander — It is a Class 6 felony, which can lead to criminal fines and one to five years in prison; or
  • Causes the death of another person — It is a felony, which can lead to criminal fines and one to 20 years in prison.

In addition to criminal fines and a jail or prison sentence, street racing offenders will lose their driving privileges. The applicable suspension period varies from six months to three years, depending on the circumstances of the offense.

Is it a Virginia Crime to Aid or Abet a Street Race?

Code of Virginia Section 46.2-866 makes it unlawful to aid or abet any street race. Even if a person is not involved in the street race, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor to aid or abet any street race.

Upon conviction for this Class 1 misdemeanor, there will be a substantially similar punishment to the one described above.

Do You Need Legal Help?

If you need legal assistance with street racing or reckless driving in Virginia, it can be highly constructive to reach out to a dependable Leesburg reckless driving attorney. The attorneys at Simms Showers LLP can help you fight back against criminal charges like street racing or reckless driving. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free initial consultation.






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Contact the Leesburg, Winchester & Loudoun County Attorneys of Simms Showers LLP today

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