Aggressive Driving Defense Attorney in Virginia
Many of us have gotten a traffic ticket at some point in our life, and we likely shrugged it off as a minor inconvenience. Not all traffic offenses are minor, however. Aggressive driving, for instance, is a major offense with penalties that include significant jail time, hefty fines, and temporary suspension of your driver’s license. In short, being found guilty of aggressive driving in Virginia could have a profound impact on your future.
If you’re accused of aggressive driving in Virginia, you need help from a qualified criminal defense attorney. As an experienced Richmond traffic offense lawyer, Samantha Upton has successfully handled thousands of these types of cases. Upton Law, PLLC can help you navigate the criminal justice system during this trying time and seek a resolution that minimizes the potential impact on your life.
To learn more about our legal services, contact our office for a confidential consultation.
What Is Aggressive Driving in Virginia?
Under Virginia law, aggressive driving is a separate offense from the broader offense of reckless driving. The definition of reckless driving is found in Section 46.2-852 of the Code of Virginia. It states that anyone can be charged with reckless driving if their speed or driving behavior places anyone else at risk of injury or death.
In addition to this broad definition of reckless driving, certain specific offenses could result in a reckless driving charge. These include:
- Passing a stopped school bus (Code of Virginia Section 46.2-859)
- Driving too fast for traffic conditions (Code of Virginia Section 46.2-861)
- Going 20 or more miles per hour over the posted speed limit, or if your speed exceeds 85 mph on any road (Code of Virginia Section 46.2-862)
- Failing to yield the right-of-way in certain situations (Code of Virginia Section 46.2-863)
- Racing another driver (Code of Virginia Section 46.2-865)
Aggressive driving is defined in Section 46.2-868.1. This law states that drivers can be charged with aggressive driving if they commit one or more of the following offenses in a way that’s hazardous to other drivers or with intent to “harass, intimidate, injure or obstruct another person”:
- Driving on the wrong side of a highway
- Failing to observe marked traffic lines
- Following too closely behind another driver
- Ignoring a stop sign, red light, or other traffic-control devices
- Passing another vehicle in an unsafe manner
- Speeding up to prevent another vehicle from passing
When Does Aggressive Driving Become a Legal Issue?
Aggressive driving is either a Class 2 or Class 1 misdemeanor, depending on the particular circumstances of the case. These are the two highest classifications of misdemeanors under Virginia law and may carry substantial penalties. Similarly, reckless driving is either a Class 1 misdemeanor or a Class 6 felony (the lowest classification of a felony), depending on the specific facts of the case.
If you’re facing a reckless driving or aggressive driving charge, you need legal help as soon as possible. An experienced and knowledgeable traffic offense attorney will work hard to minimize the consequences of your charges, such as paying a large fine, losing your driver’s license, or going to jail.
How Do You Defend Against an Aggressive Driving Charge?
Defending yourself against an aggressive driving or reckless driving charge can be a challenge. However, some strategies could work if you have the right legal team backing you up.
To be found guilty of aggressive driving, the prosecutor needs to show that you committed one of the offenses in Virginia’s aggressive driving law. They’ll also have to demonstrate that you were driving in a hazardous way and that you were attempting to harass, intimidate, injure, or obstruct another driver.
This leaves a fair amount of room for interpretation. If you can show that you were not trying to harass or injure another driver or that your actions didn’t endanger anyone else, you may be able to have the charges dismissed.
Defending yourself against reckless driving is a bit trickier since it’s a broader offense, and the prosecution doesn’t necessarily have to prove any sort of intent. That said, some common defense strategies for reckless driving charges include:
- Driving behavior – If you are in a car accident, the prosecution must prove the accident occurred because of reckless driving behavior. Proving an accident occurred is not sufficient under Virginia case law.
- Proving you’re the driver – The prosecution must be able to show that you were behind the wheel when the alleged offense occurred. If they cannot, their case falls apart.
- Faulty equipment – In reckless driving cases centering on speeding, the officer who charged you must be able to show that their equipment was working correctly. If there’s an issue with the officer’s radar gun, a crucial piece of evidence could be discounted.
In some cases, the prosecutor or judge might agree to a lesser charge that has less severe consequences.
Consequences for Aggressive Driving in VA
The penalties for aggressive driving and reckless driving include:
- Aggressive driving without intent to injure – Class 2 misdemeanor. Penalties include a fine of up to $1,000, up to six months in jail, and the possible suspension of your driver’s license.
- Aggressive driving with intent to injure – Class 1 misdemeanor. Penalties include a fine of up to $2,500, up to 12 months in jail, and the possible suspension of your driver’s license.
- Reckless driving – Class 1 misdemeanor. Penalties include a fine of up to $2,500, up to 12 months in jail, and the possible suspension of your driver’s license.
- Reckless driving with a suspended or revoked driver’s license or resulting in the death or injury of another person – Class 6 felony. Penalties include a fine of up to $2,500, up to five years in jail, and the possible suspension of your driver’s license.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help With Aggressive Driving Charges?
Yes, as soon as possible. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you could be looking at jail, high fines, and a license suspension. To protect your rights and your future, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible after being charged. It’s crucial that you don’t say anything to the police without an attorney present.
Contact Our Experienced VA Aggressive Driving Defense Lawyer Today
An aggressive driving or reckless driving charge is no ordinary traffic offense and should not be treated as a minor issue. Without proper legal representation, you could face significant consequences from these charges.