Reckless Driving Changes Currently Pending

Last updated – 3/20/11

Virginia’s laws on reckless driving are already complicated. There are fourteen different varieties of this misdemeanor traffic offense. If the General Assembly has it’s way, the laws will continue to grow.

Several bills are pending in the 2011 Virginia General Assembly to alter reckless driving laws. These are just few that caught my attention. I will try to update the status of each bill below as the legislative session continues.

HB 1993 makes it reckless driving to run a stop sign, yield sign, or traffic light AND unintentionally caused serious bodily injury or death.

This bill makes some sense, but it seems repetitive to me. We already have a catch-all rule for reckless driving (46.2-852), which could easily be charged and proven in an instance that the new bill contemplates.

I inadvertently looked at the original version of this bill when I first published this post. I realized that the House Courts of Justice Committee significantly changed the bill to simply make any red light violation reckless driving. That’s a HUGE change in the law.

HB 1993 status:
Passed by the House – 2/5/11
Assigned to the Senate Courts of Justice, Criminal subcommittee – 2/11/11
Passed by indefinitely – 2/16/11

HB 2485 expands the list of places where a driver can be convicted of reckless driving (from 46.2-864) to include any public area open to vehicular traffic. No surprises here, and the bill actually makes a little sense.

HB 2485 status:
Reported from Courts of Justice committee – 2/4/11
Passed by the House – 2/8/11
Assigned to the Senate Courts of Justice, Criminal subcommittee – 2/11/11
Reported from Courts of Justice committee with amendments – 2/16/11
Approved by Governor – 3/18/11

HB 2043 corrects a mistake in the current reckless driving law. 46.2-859 makes it reckless driving to fail to stop for a stopped school bus; however, the statute is missing an “at.” The bill just fixes that critical grammatical error.

HB 2043 status:
Passed by the House – 2/4/11
Referred to the Senate Courts of Justice committee – 2/11/11
Senate constitutional reading dispensed – 2/15/11
Passed Senate with substitute with amendment – 2/16/11
Placed on House calendar – 2/17/11
Signed by Speaker of House and President of Senate – 2/24/11

At least two proposed bills seem to be a reaction to last year’s increased speed limit of 70 mph (only in some places – watch the signs).

HB 2350 simply removes the 80 mph rule for reckless driving. If that bill passed, reckless would only be speeds 20 or more above the posted speed limit. That means 81 in a 70 would just be simple speeding. In a 70 zone, 90 would be reckless driving.

HB 2350 status:
Tabled by the Courts of Justice, Criminal subcommittee – 2/2/11
Left in Courts of Justice – 2/8/11

HB 2322 is a bit more complicated. It changes the 80 mph rule to 90. But the bill also raises the prepayable speeding fine for any speeds over 80 mph to $50 per mile over 80.

If 2322 passes and you get stopped for going 86 in a 70, it would just be a speeding offense. But the fine would be $6/mile up to 80, then $50/mile to 86. Thus, it would be $60 + $300 = $360. At 89 mph, the fine would be $510.

HB 2322 status:
Tabled by the Courts of Justice subcommittee – 2/2/11
Left in Courts of Justice – 2/8/11

Photo by Vipal

Andrew Flusche

My name is Andrew Flusche. I am a traffic and misdemeanor defense lawyer in Virginia. I limit my practice to traffic tickets and misdemeanor defense, so I know the ins and outs of these offenses. I literally wrote the book on reckless driving in Virginia which you can get on Amazon here or download for free here. I opened my practice in 2008 after earning my Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. Since then I have earned over 600 5-star reviews from happy clients on Google, Yelp, Facebook, and Avvo. If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor offense in Virginia, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Your initial consultation is always free, and you'll talk directly with me about the details of your case.

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