The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has defined aggressive driving as “the operation of a motor vehicle in any manner that endangers, or is likely to endanger persons or property.” Aggressive driving has recently been subject to increased regulation, because such behavior endangers the safety of other drivers and passengers.
Aggressive driving may include:
- Driving above the speed limit
- Violating traffic control measures (such as signal lights and traffic signs)
- Changing lanes or overtaking/passing recklessly
- Not stopping or pulling over for emergency vehicles
- Failing to stop or slow down at a school crossing zone
- Tailgating, swerving, or other dangerous maneuvers
Aggressive driving is often included under state statutes which regulate reckless driving. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol may also lead to aggressive driving charges.
Do All States Have Aggressive Driving Laws?
While many states address reckless driving, not all of them specifically include a category for aggressive driving. However, aggressive driving is increasingly becoming recognized as a danger, and by 2009, 11 states had passed aggressive driving laws.
More recently, the states of California, Utah, and Pennsylvania have enacted aggressive driving statutes. On the other hand, the state of Florida has banned the enforcement of aggressive driving laws.
What Are the Legal Penalties for Aggressive Driving?
Aggressive driving can result in misdemeanor criminal charges. This means that offenders may be subject to criminal penalties such as:
- Fines of up to $1,000
- Up to 90 days in jail
Being found guilty of aggressive driving can also result in other penalties, such as the loss of driving privileges, and negative impacts on one’s insurance policies.
In some states, aggressive driving can result in more serious criminal felony charges. This is because some states regard automobiles as deadly weapons in some situations. If the driver is being charged with assault with a deadly weapon or vehicular manslaughter in connection with aggressive driving, it can result in fines of up to $10,000, as well as 1-4 years in a prison facility.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Aggressive Driving Charges?
If you are facing charges for aggressive driving, you should consult with a criminal lawyer for representation. Automobile crimes can sometimes be among the most serious crimes and are prosecuted strictly. An attorney will be able to provide you with valuable advice and can help determine whether you have any defenses available.