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Reckless Driving for Passing at a Railroad Crossing

Passing at a Railroad Crossing

Did you know it’s a crime in Virginia to pass another car at a railroad crossing?

Many drivers have had the experience of being stuck behind another car that dawdles going over a set of railroad tracks. The other driver slows to a crawl, being what we think is overly cautious, especially since there isn’t a train in sight. There’s no oncoming traffic in the opposite lane where you’d need to pass, and as tempting as it is to just zoom around that other car and get across the tracks and on your way, Virginia considers that a form of reckless driving.

Virginia Code §46.2-858 says that overtaking or passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction at a railroad grade crossing or intersection of highways is reckless driving. There’s an exception to the rule if the road has two or more lanes of travel in the same direction, a marked passing zone, or is a one-way street.

It’s also reckless driving to pass another vehicle when pedestrians are crossing in front of you unless a traffic light or police officer gives you the right-of-way to go, according to the statute.

Penalties for Reckless Driving

You might be shocked at just what a reckless driving conviction may end up costing you in Virginia. In addition to the possibility of higher insurance premiums, reckless driving generally is a Class 1 misdemeanor crime. That means you face potential jail time, fines, and suspension of your driving privileges. Virginia law requires that the DMV add six demerit points to your license that stay there for 11 years when you’re convicted of reckless driving.

Any time you apply for a job or a security clearance, or have to undergo a background check for an apartment, your reckless driving conviction may show up. You’ll have a permanent criminal record that could affect your life for years to come.

The best way to avoid the more serious consequences of a reckless driving conviction is to talk to an experienced traffic defense attorney. A lawyer who handles many cases in the Virginia court where your charge is pending will be in the best position to represent you toward the most favorable outcome. That could include negotiating to have your charge reduced or dismissed, or for lesser penalties if you have a good driving history or are willing to take driver education. A lawyer also may be able to help you get the charge expunged from your record if you meet conditions set forth by a judge or prosecutor.