Virginia Traffic Law
§ 46.2-300. Driving without license prohibited; penalties.
No person, except those expressly exempted in §§ 46.2-303 through 46.2-308, shall drive any motor vehicle on any highway in the Commonwealth until such person has applied for a driver’s license, as provided in this article, satisfactorily passed the examination required by § 46.2-325, and obtained a driver’s license, nor unless the license is valid.
A violation of this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor. A second or subsequent violation of this section is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Upon conviction under this section, the court may suspend the person’s privilege to drive for a period not to exceed 90 days.
§ 46.2-301. Driving while license, permit, or privilege to drive suspended or revoked.
A. In addition to any other penalty provided by this section, any motor vehicle administratively impounded or immobilized under the provisions of § 46.2-301.1 may, in the discretion of the court, be impounded or immobilized for an additional period of up to 90 days upon conviction of an offender for driving while his driver’s license, learner’s permit, or privilege to drive a motor vehicle has been suspended or revoked for (i) a violation of § 18.2-36.1, 18.2-51.4, 18.2-266, 18.2-272, or 46.2-341.24 or a substantially similar ordinance or law in any other jurisdiction or (ii) driving after adjudication as an habitual offender, where such adjudication was based in whole or in part on an alcohol-related offense, or where such person’s license has been administratively suspended under the provisions of § 46.2-391.2. However, if, at the time of the violation, the offender was driving a motor vehicle owned by another person, the court shall have no jurisdiction over such motor vehicle but may order the impoundment or immobilization of a motor vehicle owned solely by the offender at the time of arrest. All costs of impoundment or immobilization, including removal or storage expenses, shall be paid by the offender prior to the release of his motor vehicle.
B. Except as provided in §§ 46.2-304 and 46.2-357, no resident or nonresident (i) whose driver’s license, learner’s permit, or privilege to drive a motor vehicle has been suspended or revoked or (ii) who has been directed not to drive by any court or by the Commissioner, or (iii) who has been forbidden, as prescribed by operation of any statute of the Commonwealth or a substantially similar ordinance of any county, city or town, to operate a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth shall thereafter drive any motor vehicle or any self-propelled machinery or equipment on any highway in the Commonwealth until the period of such suspension or revocation has terminated or the privilege has been reinstated or a restricted license is issued pursuant to subsection E. A clerk’s notice of suspension of license for failure to pay fines or costs given in accordance with §46.2-395 shall be sufficient notice for the purpose of maintaining a conviction under this section. For the purposes of this section, the phrase “motor vehicle or any self-propelled machinery or equipment” shall not include mopeds.
C. A violation of subsection B is a Class 1 misdemeanor. A third or subsequent offense occurring within a 10-year period shall include a mandatory minimum term of confinement in jail of 10 days. However, the court shall not be required to impose a mandatory minimum term of confinement in any case where a motor vehicle is operated in violation of this section in a situation of apparent extreme emergency which requires such operation to save life or limb.
D. Upon a violation of subsection B, the court shall suspend the person’s license or privilege to drive a motor vehicle for the same period for which it had been previously suspended or revoked. In the event the person violated subsection B by driving during a period of suspension or revocation which was not for a definite period of time, the court shall suspend the person’s license, permit or privilege to drive for an additional period not to exceed 90 days, to commence upon the expiration of the previous suspension or revocation or to commence immediately if the previous suspension or revocation has expired.
E. Any person who is otherwise eligible for a restricted license may petition each court that suspended his license pursuant to subsection D for authorization for a restricted license, provided that the period of time for which the license was suspended by the court pursuant to subsection D, if measured from the date of conviction, has expired, even though the suspension itself has not expired. A court may, for good cause shown, authorize the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue a restricted license for any of the purposes set forth in subsection E of § 18.2-271.1. No restricted license shall be issued unless each court that issued a suspension of the person’s license pursuant to subsection D authorizes the Department to issue a restricted license. Any restricted license issued pursuant to this subsection shall be in effect until the expiration of any and all suspensions issued pursuant to subsection D, except that it shall automatically terminate upon the expiration, cancellation, suspension, or revocation of the person’s license or privilege to drive for any other cause. No restricted license issued pursuant to this subsection shall permit a person to operate a commercial motor vehicle as defined in the Commercial Driver’s License Act (§ 46.2-341.1 et seq.). The court shall forward to the Commissioner a copy of its authorization entered pursuant to this subsection, which shall specifically enumerate the restrictions imposed and contain such information regarding the person to whom such a license is issued as is reasonably necessary to identify the person. The court shall also provide a copy of its authorization to the person, who may not operate a motor vehicle until receipt from the Commissioner of a restricted license. A copy of the restricted license issued by the Commissioner shall be carried at all times while operating a motor vehicle.
F. Any person who operates a motor vehicle or any self-propelled machinery or equipment in violation of the terms of a restricted license issued pursuant to subsection E of § 18.2-271.1 is not guilty of a violation of this section but is guilty of a violation of § 18.2-272.
§ 46.2-305. Exemption of persons in armed services.
Every person in the armed services of the United States, when furnished with a driver’s license, and when operating an official motor vehicle in such service, shall be exempt from licensure under this chapter.
§ 46.2-306. Exemption of armed services personnel and spouses and dependent children of armed services personnel.
Notwithstanding § 46.2-100, a person on active duty with the armed services of the United States or a spouse or a dependent child not less than sixteen years of age of a person on active duty with the armed services of the United States who has been licensed as a driver under a law requiring the licensing of drivers in his home state or country and who has in his immediate possession a valid driver’s license issued to him in his home state or country shall be permitted without examination or license under this chapter to drive a motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth. The provisions of this section shall not be affected by the person’s, spouse’s, or dependent child’s ownership of a motor vehicle registered in Virginia.
§ 46.2-1003. Illegal use of defective or unsafe equipment.
It shall be unlawful for any person to use or have as equipment on a motor vehicle operated on a highway any device or equipment mentioned in § 46.2-1002 which is defective or in unsafe condition.
§ 46.2-1080. Speedometer in good working order.
It shall be unlawful for any person to possess with intent to sell or offer for sale, either separately or as a part of the equipment of a motor vehicle, or to use or have as a part of the equipment of a motor vehicle, or to use or have as equipment on a motor vehicle operated on a highway any speedometer which is not in good working order.
§ 46.2-829. Approach of law-enforcement or fire-fighting vehicles, rescue vehicles, or ambulances; violation as failure to yield right-of-way.
Upon the approach of any emergency vehicle as defined in § 46.2-920 giving audible signal by siren, exhaust whistle, or air horn designed to give automatically intermittent signals, and displaying a flashing, blinking, or alternating emergency light or lights as provided in §§ 46.2-1022 through 46.2-1024, the driver of every other vehicle shall, as quickly as traffic and other highway conditions permit, drive to the nearest edge of the roadway, clear of any intersection of highways, and stop and remain there, unless otherwise directed by a law-enforcement officer, until the emergency vehicle has passed. This provision shall not relieve the driver of any such vehicle to which the right-of-way is to be yielded of the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway, nor shall it protect the driver of any such vehicle from the consequences of an arbitrary exercise of such right-of-way.
Violation of this section shall constitute failure to yield the right-of-way; however, any violation of this section that involves overtaking or passing a moving emergency vehicle giving an audible signal and displaying activated warning lights as provided for in this section shall constitute reckless driving, punishable as provided in § 46.2-868.
§ 46.2-830.1. Failure to obey highway sign where driver sleeping or resting.
Upon the trial of a person charged with failure to obey a highway sign in violation of § 46.2-830 where the court finds that the violation resulted from the vehicle having been parked or stopped by the driver on the shoulder or other portion of the highway not ordinarily used for vehicular traffic in order for the driver to sleep or rest, the court may, in lieu of convicting under § 46.2-830, find the driver guilty of violating this section, which shall be a lesser-included offense of § 46.2-830. No demerit points shall be assigned pursuant to the Uniform Demerit Point System for convictions pursuant to this section.
§ 46.2-862. Exceeding speed limit.
A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives a motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth (i) at a speed of twenty miles per hour or more in excess of the applicable maximum speed limit or (ii) in excess of eighty miles per hour regardless of the applicable maximum speed limit.
§ 46.2-852. Reckless driving; general rule.
Irrespective of the maximum speeds permitted by law, any person who drives a vehicle on any highway recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person shall be guilty of reckless driving.
§ 46.2-864. Reckless driving on parking lots, etc.
A person is guilty of reckless driving who operates any motor vehicle at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person:
- On any driveway or premises of a church, school, recreational facility, or business or governmental property open to the public; or
- On the premises of any industrial establishment providing parking space for customers, patrons, or employees; or
- On any highway under construction or not yet open to the public.
§ 46.2-868. Reckless driving; penalties.
A. Every person convicted of reckless driving under the provisions of this article shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
B. Every person convicted of reckless driving under the provisions of this article who, when he committed the offense, (i) was driving without a valid operator’s license due to a suspension or revocation for a moving violation and, (ii) as the sole and proximate result of his reckless driving, caused the death of another, is guilty of a Class 6 felony.
§ 46.2-869. Improper driving; penalty.
Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this article, upon the trial of any person charged with reckless driving where the degree of culpability is slight, the court in its discretion may find the accused not guilty of reckless driving but guilty of improper driving. However, an attorney for the Commonwealth may reduce a charge of reckless driving to improper driving at any time prior to the court’s decision and shall notify the court of such change. Improper driving shall be punishable as a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of not more than $500.
§ 46.2-870. Maximum speed limits generally.
Except as otherwise provided in this article, the maximum speed limit shall be 55 miles per hour on interstate highways or other limited access highways with divided roadways, nonlimited access highways having four or more lanes, and all state primary highways.
The maximum speed limit on all other highways shall be 55 miles per hour if the vehicle is a passenger motor vehicle, bus, pickup or panel truck, or a motorcycle, but 45 miles per hour on such highways if the vehicle is a truck, tractor truck, or combination of vehicles designed to transport property, or is a motor vehicle being used to tow a vehicle designed for self-propulsion, or a house trailer.
Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section, the maximum speed limit shall be 70 miles per hour where indicated by lawfully placed signs, erected subsequent to a traffic engineering study and analysis of available and appropriate accident and law-enforcement data, on: (i) interstate highways, (ii) multilane, divided, limited access highways, and (iii) high-occupancy vehicle lanes if such lanes are physically separated from regular travel lanes. The maximum speed limit shall be 60 miles per hour where indicated by lawfully placed signs, erected subsequent to a traffic engineering study and analysis of available and appropriate accident and law-enforcement data, on U.S. Route 29, U.S. Route 58, U.S. Route 360, U.S. Route 460, and on U.S. Route 17 between the town of Port Royal and Saluda where they are nonlimited access, multilane, divided highways.
§ 46.2-943. Court or jury may consider defendant’s prior traffic record before sentencing.
The term “traffic offense” when used in this section shall mean any moving traffic violation described or enumerated in subdivisions 1 and 2 of § 46.2-382, whether such violation was committed within or outside the Commonwealth according to the records of the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The term “prior traffic record” when used in this section shall mean the record of prior suspensions and revocations of a driver’s license, and the record of prior convictions of traffic offenses described in the foregoing provisions of this section.
When any person is found guilty of a traffic offense, the court or jury trying the case may consider the prior traffic record of the defendant before imposing sentence as provided by law. After the prior traffic record of the defendant has been introduced, the defendant shall be afforded an opportunity to present evidence limited to showing the nature of his prior convictions, suspensions, and revocations.
§ 46.2-947. Violations committed within highway safety corridor; report on benefits.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the fine for any moving violation of any provision of this chapter while operating a motor vehicle in a designated highway safety corridor pursuant to §33.1-223.2:8 shall be no more than $500 for any violation which is a traffic infraction and not less than $200 for any violation which is a criminal offense. The otherwise applicable fines set forth in Rule 3B:2 of the Rules of the Supreme Court shall be doubled in the case of a waiver of appearance and a plea of guilty under § 16.1-69.40:1 or § 19.2-254.2 for a violation of a provision of this chapter while operating a motor vehicle in a designated highway safety corridor pursuant to § 33.1-223.2:8. The Commissioner shall report, on an annual basis, statistical data related to benefits derived from the designation of such highway safety corridors. This information may be posted on the Virginia Department of Transportation’s official website. Notwithstanding the provisions of § 46.2-1300, the governing bodies of counties, cities and towns may not adopt ordinances providing for penalties under this section.
§ 18.2-270. Penalty for driving while intoxicated; subsequent offense; prior conviction.
A. Except as otherwise provided herein, any person violating any provision of § 18.2-266 shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor with a mandatory minimum fine of $250. If the person’s blood alcohol level as indicated by the chemical test administered as provided in this article or by any other scientifically reliable chemical test performed on whole blood under circumstances reliably establishing the identity of the person who is the source of the blood and the accuracy of the results (i) was at least 0.15, but not more than 0.20, he shall be confined in jail for an additional mandatory minimum period of five days or, (ii) if the level was more than 0.20, for an additional mandatory minimum period of 10 days.
B. 1. Any person convicted of a second offense committed within less than five years after a prior offense under § 18.2-266 shall upon conviction of the second offense be punished by a mandatory minimum fine of $500 and by confinement in jail for not less than one month nor more than one year. Twenty days of such confinement shall be a mandatory minimum sentence.
2. Any person convicted of a second offense committed within a period of five to 10 years of a prior offense under § 18.2-266 shall upon conviction of the second offense be punished by a mandatory minimum fine of $500 and by confinement in jail for not less than one month. Ten days of such confinement shall be a mandatory minimum sentence.
3. Upon conviction of a second offense within 10 years of a prior offense, if the person’s blood alcohol level as indicated by the chemical test administered as provided in this article or by any other scientifically reliable chemical test performed on whole blood under circumstances reliably establishing the identity of the person who is the source of the blood and the accuracy of the results (i) was at least 0.15, but not more than 0.20, he shall be confined in jail for an additional mandatory minimum period of 10 days or, (ii) if the level was more than 0.20, for an additional mandatory minimum period of 20 days. In addition, such person shall be fined a mandatory minimum fine of $500.
C. 1. Any person convicted of three offenses of § 18.2-266 committed within a 10-year period shall upon conviction of the third offense be guilty of a Class 6 felony. The sentence of any person convicted of three offenses of § 18.2-266 committed within a 10-year period shall include a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days, unless the three offenses were committed within a five-year period, in which case the sentence shall include a mandatory minimum sentence of confinement for six months. In addition, such person shall be fined a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000.
2. The punishment of any person convicted of a fourth or subsequent offense of § 18.2-266 committed within a 10-year period shall, upon conviction, include a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of one year. In addition, such person shall be fined a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000. Unless otherwise modified by the court, the defendant shall remain on probation and under the terms of any suspended sentence for the same period as his operator’s license was suspended, not to exceed three years.
3. The vehicle solely owned and operated by the accused during the commission of a felony violation of § 18.2-266 shall be subject to seizure and forfeiture. After an arrest for a felony violation of § 18.2-266, the Commonwealth may file an information in accordance with § 19.2-386.1. If the information is filed, the Commonwealth shall notify the Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles that the property is subject to seizure. The Commissioner shall act upon such notification pursuant to the provisions for certification and notice applicable to a seizure under § 19.2-375, except that the Commissioner shall serve the written notice of the seizure upon the registered owner and lienor in accordance with the requirements of § 8.01-296. Any seizure shall be stayed until conviction and the exhaustion of all appeals at which time, if the information has been filed, the Commonwealth shall immediately commence seizure of the property in accordance with § 19.2-386.2.
An immediate family member of the owner of any motor vehicle for which an information has been filed under this section who was not the driver at the time of the violation may petition the court in which such information was filed for the release of the motor vehicle. If the immediate family member proves by a preponderance of the evidence that his immediate family has only one motor vehicle and will suffer a substantial hardship if that motor vehicle is seized and forfeited, the court, in its discretion, may release the vehicle.
In the event the vehicle was sold to a bona fide purchaser subsequent to the arrest but prior to seizure in order to avoid seizure and forfeiture, the Commonwealth shall have a right of action against the seller for the proceeds of the sale.
D. In addition to the penalty otherwise authorized by this section or § 16.1-278.9, any person convicted of a violation of § 18.2-266 committed while transporting a person 17 years of age or younger shall be (i) fined an additional minimum of $500 and not more than $1,000 and (ii) sentenced to a mandatory minimum period of confinement of five days.
E. For the purpose of determining the number of offenses committed by, and the punishment appropriate for, a person under this section, an adult conviction of any person, or finding of guilty in the case of a juvenile, under the following shall be considered a conviction of § 18.2-266: (i) the provisions of § 18.2-36.1 or the substantially similar laws of any other state or of the United States, (ii) the provisions of §§ 18.2-51.4, 18.2-266, former § 18.1-54 (formerly § 18-75), the ordinance of any county, city or town in this Commonwealth or the laws of any other state or of the United States substantially similar to the provisions of § 18.2-51.4, or § 18.2-266, or (iii) the provisions of subsection A of § 46.2-341.24 or the substantially similar laws of any other state or of the United States.
F. Mandatory minimum punishments imposed pursuant to this section shall be cumulative, and mandatory minimum terms of confinement shall be served consecutively. However, in no case shall punishment imposed hereunder exceed the applicable statutory maximum Class 1 misdemeanor term of confinement or fine upon conviction of a first or second offense, or Class 6 felony term of confinement or fine upon conviction of a third or subsequent offense.
§ 18.2-273. Report of conviction to Department of Motor Vehicles.
The clerk of every court of record and the judge of every court not of record shall, within thirty days after final conviction of any person in his court under the provisions of this article, report the fact thereof and the name, post-office address and street address of such person, together with the license plate number on the vehicle operated by such person to the Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles who shall preserve a record thereof in his office.
§ 18.2-323.1. Drinking while operating a motor vehicle; possession of open container while operating a motor vehicle and presumption; penalty.
A. It shall be unlawful for any person to consume an alcoholic beverage while driving a motor vehicle upon a public highway of this Commonwealth.
B. A rebuttable presumption that the driver has consumed an alcoholic beverage in violation of this section shall be created if (i) an open container is located within the passenger area of the motor vehicle, (ii) the alcoholic beverage in the open container has been at least partially removed and (iii) the appearance, conduct, odor of alcohol, speech or other physical characteristic of the driver of the motor vehicle may be reasonably associated with the consumption of an alcoholic beverage.
For the purposes of this section:
“Open container” means any vessel containing an alcoholic beverage, except the originally sealed manufacturer’s container.
“Passenger area” means the area designed to seat the driver of any motor vehicle, any area within the reach of the driver, including an unlocked glove compartment, and the area designed to seat passengers. This term shall not include the trunk of any passenger vehicle, the area behind the last upright seat of a passenger van, station wagon, hatchback, sport utility vehicle or any similar vehicle, the living quarters of a motor home, or the passenger area of a motor vehicle designed, maintained or used primarily for the transportation of persons for compensation, including a bus, taxi, or limousine, while engaged in the transportation of such persons.
C. A violation of this section is punishable as a Class 4 misdemeanor.