Sometimes a city or state’s network of highways can seem like a tangle of concrete spaghetti, especially if you’re from out of town or in an unfamiliar area. Road signs aren’t always helpful, and even GPS can be fallible. Sometimes it can be unclear where to get on the highway, or you get on and have a short distance to change lanes before you end up someplace you don’t want to be.
If you’re flustered or trying to pay attention to the signs, you may not notice that other car coming in the highway lane you’re trying to enter. But if you’re entering a highway in Virginia and fail to yield to that other vehicle, you may end up charged with reckless driving.
Under Virginia Code §46.2-863, it’s a form of reckless driving to enter a highway without stopping when you’re coming from a side road and there’s traffic approaching within 500 feet. When there’s a “Yield Right-of-Way” sign posted, failing to yield the right-of-way to a car coming in either direction also is reckless driving under this statute.
What is a Highway?
Most people think of a highway as an interstate or a state route — a big, multi-lane road with a higher speed limit that has few or no intersections or stops. However, when Virginia traffic laws talk about offenses committed on highways, that really means just about any public road.
Virginia Code §46.2-100 defines terms used in the state’s traffic laws, and says a highway is the “entire width between the boundary lines of every way or place open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel in the Commonwealth, including the streets and alleys.” The term “highway” also may include private roads or streets that have been designated highways by local governments, or places used for vehicular travel on property owned, leased, or controlled by the U.S. government.
Consequences of Reckless Driving for Failure to Yield Conviction
If you’re convicted of reckless driving based on an allegation of failure to yield, Virginia law says you face the following possible penalties:
- A jail sentence of up to 12 months
- A fine of up to $2,500
- Driver’s license suspension of 10 days to six months
- Six demerit points on your driving record for 11 years
Those are just the statutory penalties. Reckless driving is a serious misdemeanor crime in Virginia, meaning you’ll have a permanent criminal record if conviction. Your conviction could show up on background checks for employment, security clearance applications, or rental housing.
Many insurance companies also tend to raise your car insurance rates when you’re convicted of reckless driving because they view you as a higher risk once you have that kind of offense on your driving record.
If you’ve been charged with reckless driving in Virginia, an experienced traffic defense lawyer may be able to help. If you have a good driving history or are willing to attend a driver improvement course, your attorney may be able to get your charge or your penalties reduced, but your options and possible outcome will always depend upon your individual circumstances.