Overview of Reckless Driving Charges in Virginia

Reckless Driving is a serious traffic violation in Virginia and can have serious consequences. Although it’s a minor infraction, it’s also a criminal offense that can result in fines, license suspension, and sometimes jail time.

It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the penalties and consequences associated with reckless driving in Virginia if you are facing this charge or want to better understand it.

You can reach out to Ashwell & Ashwell for more information.


Understanding Reckless Driving in Virginia

Reckless driving involves operating a motor vehicle in a manner that risks the safety of people or their property. It covers many actions, such as going over the speed limit by 20 mph or more, racing on public roads, drunk driving, ignoring traffic signals or signs, and making dangerous passing or lane-changing moves. In Virginia, any behavior that endangers the lives of fellow road users can be considered reckless driving. 

It is important to note that to be cited for reckless driving by law enforcement officers, a driver’s actions must go beyond negligence, demonstrating a disregard for the safety of others that exceeds ordinary carelessness.

Reckless Driving Laws in Virginia

Virginia is renowned for having some of the strictest reckless driving laws in the United States. Unlike many states where reckless driving is considered a mere traffic violation, Virginia classifies it as a criminal offense.

This means a reckless driving conviction results in a misdemeanor conviction on your record. This offense could even qualify for classification as a Class One misdemeanor or, in severe cases, as a felony. 

The Code of Virginia Section 46.2-852 governs reckless driving in Virginia. This law is enforced to handle cases involving such conduct. According to this specific code section, reckless or improper driving encompasses excessive speeding and any other reckless behavior on highways that threaten life, limb, or property. Engaging in reckless behavior can potentially result in reckless driving charges.

Types of Reckless Driving Offenses

Various reckless driving offenses can result in a citation or conviction in Virginia. The most common ones include:

Reckless Driving by Speed

The Virginia reckless driving law establishes criminal charges for individuals driving at specific speeds above the speed limit. If you exceed 20 mph over the posted speed limit or drive over 85 mph, regardless of the exact speed over the limit, you may be deemed guilty of reckless driving based on speed, as stated in Code § 46.2-862 of the Virginia law.


Reckless Driving Resulting from Failure to Maintain Control or Faulty Brakes 

According to § 46.2-853 of the Code of Virginia, a driver who operates a vehicle that is not adequately controlled or has insufficient or improperly adjusted brakes on any highway can be charged with reckless driving under this section. This offense is frequently applied in traffic accident cases.


Aggressive Driving

Participating in aggressive behaviors, like tailgating, weaving through traffic, and displaying road rage, can result in reckless driving charges. These actions not only jeopardize the safety of other road users but also carry potential consequences. 

In addition to the commonly charged reckless driving offenses, Virginia also addresses ten other types, although they are less frequently encountered. These include:

  1. Passing When the View is Obstructed
  2. Passing a School Bus
  3. Driving With an Overloaded Car
  4. Passing Two Motor Vehicles Abreast
  5. Two Vehicles In One Lane
  6. Passing at an Intersection or Railroad Grade Crossing
  7. Failing to Give Proper Signals
  8. Driving Too Fast for Traffic Conditions
  9. Failure to Yield the Right of Way
  10. Racing

Penalties for Reckless Driving in Virginia

As previously mentioned, reckless driving is not a minor traffic infraction in Virginia. The penalties for this offense can be quite severe, depending on the circumstances of the violation. Potential consequences encompass a range of outcomes:

Potential Jail Time

First-time offenders are less likely to face imprisonment. However, individuals with a history of reckless driving convictions, poor driving records, or those driving at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour are at a higher risk of being sent to jail.

Reckless driving is classified as a misdemeanor of the first degree, which carries a potential jail term of 12 months. In severe cases, it may be considered a felony of the sixth degree, which can result in up to 5 years of incarceration.


License Suspension

Reckless driving Virginia convictions do not automatically lead to license suspension. Still, more egregious violations, such as driving excessively high speeds or exhibiting more reckless behavior, increase the likelihood of facing additional penalties.

In Virginia, a first-time offense may result in a maximum six-month license suspension. Driving at excessively high speeds, typically exceeding 95-100 mph, is more likely to lead to license suspension than driving at lower speeds.



Fines for reckless driving vary depending on various factors, including the individual’s driving record, the speed at which they were caught, and local court policies.

The maximum fine for a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia can be as high as $2,500. However, this amount is rarely imposed. The exact amount is at the discretion of the presiding judge, who assesses the circumstances of each case.

What Is the Difference Between Reckless Driving and Speeding?

The main difference between reckless driving and speeding is in the severity of the offenses. Speeding is just a traffic infraction that can attract a maximum fine of up to $250 in most cases and no jail time.

On the other hand, reckless driving is a much more severe charge, classifying as a criminal Class 1 misdemeanor carrying the potential of up to 12 months in jail. Remember that a reckless driving ticket is permanent, while a speeding ticket eventually gets removed from your driving record after a few years.


Do I Need a Lawyer for a Reckless Driving Charge?

    While legal representation is not mandatory, getting a Virginia reckless driving attorney is important if you’re facing a reckless driving charge in Virginia. Reckless driving is a big deal in Virginia, so finding an experienced lawyer should be your first step. Virginia judges and prosecutors are strict, but a seasoned lawyer can help you develop defensive strategies to minimize the penalties.


    Seek Legal Assistance for Your Reckless Driving Conviction


    Ashwell & Ashwell, PLLC has extensive experience handling reckless driving cases in Virginia. Our lawyers in Warrenton, VA, are equipped with the knowledge and resources to provide exceptional legal representation and work toward a favorable outcome for your case.

    Contact us today for an initial consultation. Don’t let a reckless driving charge tarnish your record or limit future opportunities – get the finest legal guidance from Ashwell & Ashwell, PLLC in Virginia.


      Contact Ashwell & Ashwell, PLLC Offices Today!

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