Everyone who drives in northern Virginia knows the frustration that often accompanies driving in the area. You see it every day – drivers cutting each other off, people driving on the shoulder of the road to get to an exit when traffic is stopped ahead of them, and many other behaviors that one typically thinks of as aggressive driving. Most of us, if we are honest, are guilty of aggressive driving at one time or another just because of the circumstances that are omnipresent on Virginia’s roads. As previously noted in this blog, aggressive driving is a serious offense in Virginia. Just how serious is it?
Aggressive Driving Statute
Virginia law punishes 12 different behaviors as aggressive driving. These behaviors rise to the level of aggressive driving when they either pose a hazard to another person or if they are done intentionally to harass, injure, impede, or intimidate another driver. For example, if you drive on the shoulder of the road to get to your exit because traffic is blocking the normal egress off of the road, you most likely have committed the offense of aggressive driving because you have created a hazard for other drivers by passing on the right and driving on the shoulder of the road. Another example would be if you intentionally sped up to keep another vehicle from merging because they made you angry by getting in a lane that is signed as ending just to avoid a traffic jam and get 10 or 15 car lengths ahead of you. It is incredibly frustrating but it is still against the law.
There are two different punishment levels for aggressive driving. First, a violation of the law that creates a hazard or is intended to harass or impede another driver is a Class Two misdemeanor. This means that it is a crime to speed up to stop a driver from merging into your lane ahead of you! It is punishable by a maximum fine of $1000 and a maximum jail sentence of up to six months.
The other level of punishment is for driving with the intent to injure. This offense is punished as a Class One misdemeanor and carries a maximum fine of $2500 and a maximum of one year in jail. This is the same penalty and criminal classification as a DUI! An example of driving with the intent to injure would be if you intentionally tailgate someone because you feel like they are going too slowly. If you are pulled over for this behavior, the police could charge you with aggressive driving with intent to injure because you are creating a situation that you knew or should have known was likely to cause an injury if the driver ahead of you stopped suddenly.
As with any criminal charge, the circumstances in which the behavior occurs has a lot to do with what charges are brought. Aggressive driving is no different. The bottom line, though, is that if you are convicted, you will have a criminal record for the rest of your life. This is in addition to severe financial penalties and potential jail time. To be frank, judges don’t typically care for the explanation that you were late for work. You need an experienced defense attorney to prepare the best possible defense. Jad Sarsour has defended clients against charges like this for over a decade. If you are facing charges like this in northern Virginia, give him a call today at (571)-261-7314 to set up your initial consultation. You have to fight for your rights to get the results you deserve and Jad Sarsour has the expertise to help you.