Virginia revises reckless driving, passing rules

April 23, 2020

Keith Goble


A pair of new laws in Virginia address concern about rules of the road. The first new law covers reckless driving offenses.

Virginia law has stated that it is a reckless driving offense to travel at least 80 mph on some highways.

Gov. Ralph Northam has signed into law a bill to increase the threshold for a reckless driving offense on the state’s fastest highways. Previously SB63, the new law raises the reckless driving threshold to at least 85 mph on highways with a 70 mph speed posted.

Advocates said the 80-mph threshold was set in Virginia when highway speeds were 65 mph. They added that many states use a threshold of 15 mph or more over the posted speed for reckless driving offenses.

Since 2010, Virginia has a 70 mph speed limit on multiple interstates. Drivers exceeding the posted speed by more than 10 mph on affected roadways are subject to a $2,500 fine or possible jail time.

Sen. David Suetterlein, R-Roanoke, has said the punishment for driving 11 mph over the posted speed limit is extreme.

Opponents say driving more than 80 mph is never safe.

Supporters say that speeding tickets still will be issued for drivers found to be going too fast.

The new law takes effect on July 1.

The Virginia Department of Transportation will need to replace or remove about 12 signs on interstates where the speed limit is 70 mph. The signs also indicate 80 mph as the limit for reckless driving.

The cost to replace the signs is estimated at $3,100 per sign, according to a fiscal impact statement. The cost of simply removing the signs is about $800 each.

Overtaking vehicle rule change

One more new law revises statute to remove the requirement of an audible signal by the driver of an overtaking vehicle to provide the driver of an overtaken vehicle to give way to the right. Essentially, slower drivers in the left lane of roadways will be required to move right even when they haven’t been honked at move over.

Advocates said the requirement of an audible signal when a vehicle is overtaken and passed is an outdated and unenforced provision that dates from an era before vehicles came equipped standard with mirrors. They added that giving someone an audible signal when passing will usually result in a hand signal in response.

Previously HB1066, the new law takes effect on July 1.

More Land Line coverage of news from Virginia is available.