There’s a reason your driving blind spot is called a blind spot, right? At some point on the road, virtually every driver has the experience of trying to change lanes, or perhaps swerving into another lane because of some debris in the road or another car that cuts you off, only to find there’s another car in the lane you’re trying to get into. You just didn’t see it because it was in your blind spot. If you’re quick, or just lucky, you avoid hitting the other car. But in Virginia you could be charged with reckless driving for being in the same lane alongside another car.
Under Virginia Code §46.2-857, it’s a form of reckless driving for any motor vehicle to drive abreast of another motor vehicle in a lane that’s designed for only one car. There’s an exception for two-wheeled motorcycles, parades or motorcades, or for a car driving in the same lane as a bicycle or moped. The statute also doesn’t apply if you’re lawfully passing another vehicle traveling in the same direction in a separate lane.
Consequences of a Reckless Driving Conviction
Unlike other places where reckless driving is a traffic violation, in Virginia it is a criminal offense. Reckless driving under most circumstances falls in the most serious category of misdemeanors, but can be a felony.
When reckless driving is charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor, the penalty upon conviction includes up to 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, and six demerit points on your driver’s license. Judges also have the discretion to suspend your driver’s license for anywhere from 10 days to six months.
Because reckless driving is a criminal charge in Virginia, you’ll have a permanent criminal record if you’re convicted. That conviction may show up on background checks when you try to get a job or a security clearance, or if you want to rent an apartment. A criminal record can be a hindrance in many aspects of your future life.
An additional consequence is the possibility you may pay more for car insurance. Whether your rates change will be up to your insurance company, but many companies consider a reckless driving conviction a risk factor and will ask you to pay more for your policy.
An experienced reckless driving attorney may be able to help you avoid some of these consequences, or avoid a conviction altogether. A defense lawyer can look at the facts and evidence in your case and help you decide on the best course of action to get the most desirable outcome possible.