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Virginia Court of Appeals affirms felony drag racing conviction

Highly-rated Northern Virginia criminal defense attorney on the criminal law risks of drag racing

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Those who drag race in Virginia face serious penalties if convicted. Racing on any roadway or other places open to traffic is a class 1 misdemeanor jailable up to one year for reckless driving, and requires a driver’s license suspension of six months to two years.

An injury resulting from drag racing risks even more serious penalties:

“Any person who, while engaging in a race in violation of § 46.2-865 [drag racing] in a manner so gross, wanton and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life: 1. Causes serious bodily injury to another person who is not involved in the violation of § 46.2-865 is guilty of a Class 6 [jailable up to five years in prison] felony; or 2. Causes the death of another person is guilty of a felony punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than one nor more than 20 years, one year of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment.” Va. Code § 46.2-865.1.

This week, the Virginia Court of Appeals affirmed Derek Doggett’s felony drag racing conviction, dismissing claims of insufficient evidence. Doggett v. Virginia___ Va. App. __ (April 12, 2016). Catastrophic injuries were suffered by at least one of Doggett’s passengers, who was ejected from his car in the resulting collision. That passenger “suffered a traumatic brain injury, a fractured pelvis, a significant injury to her right eye, and a broken jaw as a result of the accident, all of which required a six-month stay in the hospital.”

Doggett’s online docket for this Chesterfield County case shows that he received a sentence of five years in prison, suspending four years, and suspending his driving license for three years. He could have fared worse than that at sentencing.