When Does Reckless Driving Become Improper Driving In Virginia?
Reckless driving is a criminal offense under Virginia law that can lead to misdemeanor or felony charges. And a conviction for either of these charges can lead to serious repercussions, such as criminal fines, confinement, and license suspension. But in certain cases, the Virginia courts may reduce a reckless driving charge to the traffic infraction of improper driving instead.
What are the Virginia Laws Against Reckless Driving?
The overarching law against reckless driving appears under Code of Virginia Section 46.2-852. A person commits reckless driving under this section if they drive:
- At a speed that endangers people or property; or
- In a manner that endangers people or property.
In addition to the general rule discussed above, other types of reckless driving in Virginia include but are not limited to:
- Street racing in violation of Code of Virginia Section 46.2-865;
- Passing at a railroad crossing in violation of Code of Virginia Section 46.2-858;
- Failing to yield the right-of-way in violation of Code of Virginia Section 46.2-863;
- Driving with obstructed view or impaired control in violation of Code of Virginia Section 46.2-855;
- Failing to use or give proper signals in violation of Code of Virginia Section 46.2-860; or
- Driving a vehicle with improper control or faulty brakes in violation of Code of Virginia Section 46.2-853.
How Does Virginia Punish Reckless Driving?
The criminal punishment for reckless driving appears under Code of Virginia Section 46.2-868. In most cases, reckless driving results in Class 1 misdemeanor charges. The punishment for this Class 1 misdemeanor usually involves up to 12 months in jail, up to $2,500 in criminal fines, and driver’s license suspension for 60 to 180 days.
On the other hand, reckless driving can result in Class 6 felony charges. But this enhanced charge only applies in certain situations, involving a fatality and a suspended or revoked driver’s license.
The punishment for this Class 6 felony typically includes12 to 60 months in prison, up to $2,500 in criminal fines, and up to 12 months of driver’s license suspension for 60 to 180 days.
What is Improper Driving in Virginia?
The statute governing improper driving appears under Code of Virginia Section 46.2-869. Effectively, improper driving is a lesser version of reckless driving. But improper driving results in a traffic infraction, instead of criminal charges.
Improper driving is only available if the perpetrator displayed a slight or minor degree of guilt in the offense. As traffic infraction, the punishment for improper driving involves a maximum of $500 in fines.
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