Is Brake Checking Illegal in Virginia?

Sep 28, 2022 | Auto Accidents

Car back tailing in highway

Yes, brake checking is illegal in Virginia and can come with a reckless driving charge. A reckless driving charge is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia, which is punishable with a $2,500 fine, possible license suspension, a chance of jail time, and serious increases in a driver’s insurance premiums. Drivers would also have this misdemeanor on their record permanently. Read on to learn more about Virginia brake checking and the associated car accident risks. 

What Is Brake Checking?

Brake checking is the act of braking hard when a vehicle is behind you. The goal of brake checking is to get the vehicle behind you to also brake hard or swerve to avoid an accident with you. 

Most people who engage in brake checking believe that the car behind them will bear the burden of the accident since they were following too closely. The practice is extremely dangerous, and there is no guarantee that the other driver will face an infraction for the accident or that you’ll be blameless in the accident.

One reason why people engage in brake checking is because they are enraged by how other drivers are using the roadway, most often because the car behind them is tailgating them. 

Another reason why drivers brake check others is to seek an insurance payout referred to as “crash for cash.” But as stated above, this doesn’t always turn out the way the brake-checking driver is expecting, which can lead to large repair and medical bills.

Reckless Driving Examples

Now that you know what brake checking is, learn more about what reckless driving is and why brake checking often falls under this category for traffic infractions.

  • Speeding (specifically anything over 80 mph)
  • Tailgating
  • Any sort of abrupt braking, including brake checking
  • Distracted driving, such as texting or eating
  • Illegal lane changes
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Failing to turn on headlights at night or not using a turn signal
  • Failing to observe a stop sign or traffic light
  • Racing other motorists
  • Swerving in and out of lanes
  • Ignoring railroad barriers
  • Passing a school bus when its stop sign is out


All these infractions are examples of traffic infractions in which motorists can suffer severe injuries that are completely preventable had the driver followed posted speed limits and driven with care the way they should have.

Common Brake Checking Injuries

Injuries from brake checking can be minor to severe, it all depends on how bad the ensuing accident is and the speed at which the cars had been traveling before the abrupt braking. Some common brake check injuries include:

  • Whiplash
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Severe sprains


Who Is Liable for the Ensuing Accident?

In a brake checking accident, who is liable for the ensuing damage? In some cases, law enforcement might find both parties partially at fault. The driver that did the brake checking could be guilty of reckless driving for slamming on the brakes without a good reason to do so. But the vehicle that rear-ended the reckless driver could also be somewhat at fault for following too closely. 

In some circumstances, witness accounts will make it clear that the brake-checking driver was the only one at fault. That’s because some drivers experiencing road rage will speed up to pass another driver and immediately brake to cause an accident. In that case, the rear-ending vehicle could not do anything about the situation to prevent the accident.

Reach Out for a Free Consultation 

You can never assume who is at fault for a car accident. Collecting evidence and presenting your case is important to protecting your rights. Regardless of whether you are the one charged with brake checking or were the victim of another driver who engaged in brake checking, you should schedule a free consultation with Geoff McDonald & Associates to discuss your rights.

Geoff McDonald and Associates: 804-888-8888.


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