Did you know that you could face criminal charges for your driving offense? Reckless driving tickets come with heftier consequences than a fine and points on your license. If found guilty, drivers can find themselves facing six points on their driving record, up to a year in jail, a criminal record, up to $2,500 in fines, and up to six months of suspended driving privileges.
Reckless driving in Virginia is a serious criminal offense and one that should not be taken lightly. This guide gives you five scenarios where drivers could face possible reckless driving charges.
1. Weaving In Between Lanes
We have all been there, stuck behind someone going slower than we think they should. It’s tempting to start weaving from one lane to the next in an attempt to get ahead of the traffic. This is just one example of reckless driving as per VA Code § 46.2-852. You may also hear of lane weaving referred to as illegal passing. Any action that endangers the life, limb, or property of others is considered reckless driving.
Driving in a manner that endangers people doesn’t have to involve speeding. You can receive a reckless driving ticket for a variety of actions.
- Driving next to a vehicle on a one-lane road
- Failing to yield
- Driving too fast for the conditions
- Driving an overloaded vehicle with an obstructed view
- Failing to signal
- Spinning your wheels
2. Excessive Speeding
There is speeding, and then there is excessive speeding. Any speeding is dangerous, but the faster you drive, the more dangerous it becomes. The VA Code § 46.2-862 defines reckless speeding as someone driving over 20 miles per hour over the maximum speed limit. If the speed limit for a particular road is 40 mph, and you are driving 65 mph. You are driving 25 mph over the maximum speed limit. This qualifies as reckless driving. Additionally, reckless driving is traveling at speeds more than 85 mph no matter the maximum speed limit for the road.
3. Drowsy Driving
According to NHTSA estimates, about 91,000 police reports of crashes in the United States in 2017 involved a drowsy driver. Virginia is not one of the states that have a specific drowsy driving law on the books. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t receive a ticket for it. No matter what the law says, driving while drowsy is dangerous and something you should never do.
If you happen to drive while drowsy and cause an accident, you could face criminal charges. The state uses reckless driving laws as a catch-all to prosecute drowsy drivers. This makes the offense a Class 1 misdemeanor.
For a police officer to issue a reckless driving ticket, they must witness the individual driving unsafely, or the drowsy driving results in an accident. You can’t receive this charge simply because a police officer suspects someone of being tired.
4. Drag Racing
Do not engage in a race with one or more other vehicles in Virginia. Drag racing is not legal on the highway, driveway, recreational facilities, schools, churches, or business property open to the public. The only exception is if the owner of the private property issues permission for the activity. Drag racing charges come with additional penalties. In addition to the standard reckless driving penalties, the VA Code § 46.2-865 states that drivers found guilty of drag racing reckless driving face having their license suspended for at least six months and no more than two years.
Racing reckless driving charges can also become a felony. If a death results from the racing, the Class 1 misdemeanor charge gets upgraded to a class 6 felony. This means you face having your license suspended for one to three years and up to 20 years in prison.
5. Not Maintaining Your Brakes
The VA Code § 46.2-853 outlines that drivers are responsible for the maintenance of their vehicles. It specifically states that drivers must properly maintain their brakes. While an officer may not stop you to check your brakes, this charge could be applicable if your failure to maintain your brakes causes an accident.