Here’s how Virginia’s reckless driving laws are the toughest

Laws for reckless driving are overly strict in Virginia, a ranking by Popular Mechanics claims that the state has the fourth toughest speeding laws in the country.

Under Va. Code § 46.2-862 and Code § 46.2-852, reckless driving is a criminal offense in Virginia.

The reckless driving charge for speeding is covered under the section of Code § 46.2-862 that states: “A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives a motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth (i) at a speed of twenty miles per hour or more in excess of the applicable maximum speed limit or (ii) in excess of eighty miles per hour regardless of the applicable maximum speed limit.”

Code § 46.2-852 encompasses reckless driving apart from speeding:  “Irrespective of the maximum speeds permitted by law, any person who drives a vehicle on any highway recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person shall be guilty of reckless driving.”

In the state of Virginia, reckless driving is considered a Class one misdemeanor, equivalent to a DUI charge, and being convicted can lead to severe penalties like, imprisonment, fines and court charges, driver’s license suspension, DMV demerit points and a criminal record. The nature and intensity of the punishment vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction as different counties have different speed limits.

Besides these, a reckless driving charge can be established if these traffic violations occur regardless of whether or not the driving endangered someone’s life:

  • driving with defective brakes without “proper control” of the automobile
  • risky passing on a bend or crest of a hill
  • a lot of people sitting in the front seat, which hinders the driver’s vision or his ability to control the vehicle
  • driving alongside another car or passing at a railroad crossing on a single-lane road
  • not stopping when approaching a stopped school bus
  • not using the turn signals appropriately
  • In specific situations and traffic conditions, exceeding a sensible speed irrespective of the posted speed limit
  • entering a “HOT lane” (high-occupancy toll lane) by overcrossing a blockade, buffer, or any other separator
  • entering a highway from a side street without properly stopping
  • competing with another vehicle

These laws are strictly imposed, especially, at the time of holiday weekends. Virginia State Police cited 9,789 people for speeding and 2,312 people for reckless driving during the 2014 Thanksgiving weekend and 2,673 tickets were issued for reckless driving during a summer holiday weekend from 4th July to 6th July of 2014.

Despite being the 12th largest state, Virginia issues a disproportionately high amount of traffic citations and ranks seventh among other states. These harsh laws are implemented by high level of enforcement on its roads and highways and make it one of the toughest states for motorists.