It’s not uncommon to feel frustrated by slow-moving or backed-up traffic on a street, road, or highway, especially when it seems like you could just go around without causing any harm. But when you act on that frustration by passing two vehicles abreast on a Virginia highway, you may find yourself charged with reckless driving.
What the Law Says
Virginia Code §46.2-856 says that a driver who “passes or attempts to pass two other vehicles abreast, moving in the same direction” is guilty of reckless driving. The statute provides exceptions when you’re driving on a highway with separate roadways of three or more lanes for each direction of travel — such as an interstate divided by a grassy median — or on a one-way street or highway.
There also are exceptions if one or both of the vehicles you pass is a bicycle, personal mobility device, electric bicycle, or moped. It further does not apply if the vehicle you were operating was a bicycle, personal mobility device, electric bicycle, or moped.
Reckless driving generally is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia, although it can sometimes be charged as a felony. There are a number of possible penalties under the state’s statutes if you’re convicted. You may face:
- A jail sentence of up to 12 months
- Payment of up to $2,500 in fines
- Driver’s license suspension of 10 days to six months
The one penalty that’s guaranteed if you’re convicted of reckless driving is six demerit points added to your driving record. Those points stay on your record for 11 years.
Other Possible Consequences
Statutory penalties are stressful on their own, but a reckless driving conviction can affect your life in a number of other ways. It can hit your wallet in the form of increased car insurance premiums, since it’s likely that your insurance carrier will consider you a higher risk to insure after a reckless driving conviction.
You’ll also have to deal with the long-term effects of a criminal record. Your conviction likely will show up in background checks, and could be an impediment to your getting a job, a security clearance, or an apartment.
How a Lawyer Can Help
If you’re facing a reckless driving charge in Virginia, it’s best not to go it alone. An experienced traffic defense attorney can help you in a number of ways. First, a good lawyer will know the prosecutors, judges, and clerks in the court where your charge is pending, and that knowledge can help guide you through the process of defending your charge and knowing what arguments or defenses might be successful. An attorney with significant experience defending reckless driving cases understands the technicalities that can be involved in these cases and how to present the available evidence in the best light to help you either reduce your penalties or get your charge dismissed. Your lawyer can go to court on your behalf and fight for the best possible outcome, whether that’s negotiating with prosecutors or taking your case to trial.