A Virginia reckless driving charge under Va. Code §46.2-852 is a CRIME-not a traffic infraction. It can be a misdemeanor or a felony and will remain on a driver’s criminal record permanently.
Reckless driving under Va. Code §46.2-852 is committed when a person drives a motor vehicle recklessly or at a speed or in a manner that endangers the life, limb, or property of another person. For purposes of a Virginia reckless driving charge under Va. Code §46.2-852, a driver behaves recklessly when he disregards the consequences of his actions by driving a motor vehicle with an indifference to the safety of life, limb, or property of another person.
Virginia reckless driving under Va. Code §46.2-852 is frequently charged after car accidents. The police officer who responds to the scene determines who was at fault and often charges that driver with reckless driving. However, an accident does not itself prove reckless driving in Virginia under Va. Code §46.2-852. The Commonwealth is still required to prove that the driver engaged in reckless conduct.
Difference Between Reckless Driving and Traffic Infractions in Virginia
A Virginia reckless driving charge is a crime and a conviction will give a driver a permanent criminal record. Unlike speeding tickets and traffic infractions, a driver CANNOT pre-pay a fine for a Virginia reckless driving charge. The driver MUST come to court. Failure to appear in court could result in an ADDITIONAL criminal charge.
Proof of Virginia Reckless Driving Under Va. Code §46.2-852
To convict an offender of Virginia reckless driving under Va. Code §46.2-852, the Commonwealth must prove that the offender drove a motor vehicle in a reckless manner. A person commits reckless driving in Virginia under Va. Code §46.2-852 when he:
- a motor vehicle
- on a highway in the Commonwealth
- in a manner that endangers the life, limb or property or another
Virginia Reckless Driving Penalties
A Virginia reckless driving charge under Va. Code §46.2-852 is generally a Class 1 misdemeanor. It is punished with jail, high fines, driver’s license suspension, and DMV demerit points. Additionally, if the court believes that the offense was alcohol or drug-related, it may order the driver to complete the Virginia ASAP program. There are also increased penalties for reckless driving in Virginia if the offender was texting while driving or committed felony reckless driving.
- Jail: A Virginia reckless driving charge under Va. Code §46.2-852 is punished with up to 12 months in jail.
- Fines: A driver can be fined up to $2500 if convicted of a Virginia reckless driving charge under Va. Code §46.2-852.
- Court Costs: The driver will also be required to pay court costs.
- Driver’s License Suspension: A driver’s license can be suspended for 10 days up to 6 months if he is convicted of reckless driving in Virginia under Va. Code §46.2-852.
- DMV Demerit Points: The DMV will add 6 demerit points to the driving record of anyone convicted of reckless driving in Virginia.
- VASAP Referral: If the court believes that the reckless driving was drug or alcohol-related, it may order the driver to complete the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (Virginia ASAP) (Va. Code §46.2-392).
- Texting while Driving: If the offender was texting or emailing while driving in violation of Va. Code §46.2-1078.1 while driving recklessly, he will pay a minimum fine of $250 (Va. Code §46.2-868(C)). A driver can also be convicted of both reckless driving and texting while driving.
- Permanent Criminal Record: A conviction for reckless driving in Virginia under Va. Code §46.2-852 will remain on a driver’s permanent criminal record and cannot be expunged.
Can A Virginia Reckless Driving Charge Ever be a Felony?
A Virginia reckless driving charge under Va. Code §46.2-852 can sometimes be a felony. If the offender was driving without a valid operator’s license due to a suspension or revocation for a moving violation and caused the death of another person as a result of the reckless driving, he will be charged with a Class 6 felony (Va. Code §46.2-868(B)). Felony reckless driving in Virginia is punished with up to 5 years in prison, a fine up to $2500, and driver’s license revocation for 1 year.
Virginia Reckless Driving Statute
§46.2-852. Reckless driving; general rule.
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