While drag racing with buddies on a deserted highway or back road may seem harmless, it could very well result in a permanent criminal record, something that stays with you for the rest of your life. In Virginia, street racing is considered reckless driving of the worst kind and carries strict penalties including mandatory license suspension if convicted. If injuries or death are incurred as a result of a reckless driving charge, you could then face a felony charge, which ultimately affects your ability to get into schools, to vote, and to secure employment and security clearances.
Virginia Racing Laws
Virginia Code §46.2-865 defines reckless driving: two or more vehicles racing in a private driveway or parking lot of a recreational facility, school, church, or any business open to the public, or on any highway. Racing in general is classified as a serious misdemeanor, but in the eventuality of a serious injury or death, it becomes a felony. Furthermore, any participation, or aiding or abetting, in a drag race is also considered a serious misdemeanor.
Penalties for Racing in Virginia
A conviction for general reckless driving may result in a suspension of your driver’s license. Virginia Code §46.2-865 provides that a minimum of six-month driver’s license suspension be administered, but allows for as much as up to two years suspension. According to Virginia Code §46.2.866, racing and aiding and abetting are considered Class 1 misdemeanors. A conviction for either could result in up to one-year incarceration and/or up-to $2,500 in fines. In addition, you will also face up to six demerit points on your driver’s license. That stays with you for 11 years and may impact your vehicle insurance rates and the ability to secure or keep any job that involves driving.
Penalties for Racing That Results in Injury or Death
Under Virginia Code §46.2-865.1, if someone who is not directly involved in illegal racing is injured, the basic reckless driving charge changes to a Class 6 felony. That comes with a one to five-year federal prison sentence and/or up to $2,500 in fines. However, the judge and jury may reduce the sentence to less than one year if the circumstances justify a lighter sentence.
If death is incurred, the sentence increases to a sentence of one to 20 years in federal prison, with a one-year minimum mandatory prison sentence. In addition, you will incur a license suspension of one to three years. What’s more, under Virginia Code §46.2-867, if you receive a conviction for either a serious injury or death as a result of racing, the state is required to appropriate and sell your vehicle.
Defending Against Conviction
To secure a conviction for racing, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that two or more individuals were racing, or that an individual was aiding and abetting a race, in one of the aforementioned parking lots or private driveways or on a highway. If an experienced traffic violation defense attorney can find discrepancies or flaws in the testimony of witnesses, or establish doubt that you were even involved in racing in any way, your case could be dismissed.
To convict an individual within the parameters of the serious injury or death statute, a prosecuting attorney must prove, without a reasonable doubt, that your conduct at the event was “so gross, wanton and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life.” Frequently, such an allegation is reliant upon circumstantial or subjective evidence. An adept, competent defense lawyer can discover ways to challenge such evidence.
We Are Ready To Help You!
Being charged with racing in Virginia should not be taken lightly. If you are facing charges for racing or reckless driving – contact The Brown Firm PLLC immediately. We are prepared to take all legal means available to ensure that your rights are protected in court and, that you receive the best result possible for your case. Call our offices or send us a message online to set up a legal consultation to discuss your case.