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Reckless Driving in Parking Lots

Reckless Driving in Parking Lots

Many of Virginia’s reckless driving laws address moving violations or generally reckless driving behavior on public streets, roads, and highways. But one statute takes the law a step further and defines when you can be charged with reckless driving on private property.

Virginia Code §46.2-864 takes the general reckless driving rule about driving in a way that endangers a person’s life, limb, or property, and applies it to the following three situations:

  • Driving on the driveway or premises of a church, school, recreational facility, or business or government property open to the public
  • Driving on the premises of an industrial establishment providing parking space for customers, patrons, or employees
  • Driving on any highway under construction or not yet open to the public

Endangering Others by Reckless Driving in Parking Lots

Unlike other reckless driving statutes that require only that you commit the violation, such as passing a stopped school bus, this one requires the element of endangerment. So doing doughnuts in the church parking lot when it’s empty of cars or people might not rise to the level of recklessness, but if you do it during Sunday morning services when other people or cars are around, you could end up charged with a crime if anyone’s life, limb, or property were at risk because of your driving.

It’s a subjective standard, and whether you’re charged may depend upon the perspective of the officer who issues the citation. Because it’s subjective and comes down to your word against the officer’s word, this type of reckless driving charge can be challenging to contest. If you’re charged with this form of reckless driving, it’s recommended that you seek the advice of a qualified traffic defense attorney who handles reckless driving cases in the Virginia court where your case is being processed.

Consequences of Conviction

If you’re convicted, you’ll have a serious misdemeanor crime on your record. Reckless driving generally is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Virginia law gives judges the discretion to suspend your driver’s license for 10 days to six months for a reckless driving conviction, and you’ll get a mandatory six demerit points on your license that won’t drop off of your record for 11 years.

Your conviction also may come up in a background check when you try to get a job, a security clearance, or an apartment, and your car insurance premiums might go up. You should be aware of those possibilities and factor them into any decisions you make about how to proceed with your reckless driving case.