Prince William County Aggressive Driving Lawyer

The Virginia Code defines aggressive driving as driving behavior that both constitute a traffic infraction and poses a hazard to someone other than the driver himself; or is done with the intent to harass, injure, intimidate, or obstruct another driver. It is commonly referred to as Virginia’s ‘Road Rage’ statute. Reach out to a Prince William County aggressive driving lawyer if you are facing traffic criminal allegations. A well-practiced attorney could champion your case.

Elements of Aggressive Driving

Under Virginia Law, the specifically enumerated traffic infractions that could be elevated to aggressive driving may include:

  • Driving on the wrong side of the road;
  • Failing to observe traffic lane markings;
  • Following too closely to another vehicle;
  • Failing to yield to another vehicle;
  • Evading traffic signs;
  • Improperly passing to overtake a vehicle;
  • Failing to give way to an overtaking vehicle in any type of speeding offense; and
  • Stopping on a highway

If these are done in a way that presents a hazard to another person or with an additional intent to harass, intimidate, injure, or obstruct another person, all of the elements of aggressive driving could be satisfied. The other person typically does not need to be another driver; they could just be a pedestrian. Each of these elements typically must to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the Prince William County prosecutor. A Prince William County attorney with experience in the elements of aggressive driving cases could answer an accused person’s questions regarding their charges.

How These Charges May Work in Practice

Aggressive driving is a criminal misdemeanor that is typically one step less severe than reckless driving. It could only be punished half as severely in terms of maximum jail time and fines. In practice, the conduct leading to an aggressive driving charge may be perceived as more distasteful or flagrant in nature than a reckless driving charge since it involves intentional conduct. The case could ironically end up being treated more severely than a reckless driving charge. There is a specific driving class offered to people who are charged with aggressive driving, and taking that class ahead of their court date is typically enough to negotiate the charge down to a traffic infraction or an agreed upon minor sentence if the circumstances of commission or the person’s driving record are not otherwise substantially concerning. The charge of aggressive driving typically cannot be reduced down to the specific infraction of improper driving the way reckless driving charges could.

Circumstances Under Which Speeding May be Charged as Aggressive Driving

If someone speeds in a way that is notably hazardous to another driver or demonstrates an intent to be combative or harmful to someone else on the road, it could lead to the speeding ticket being enhanced to an aggressive driving charge.

How common is aggressive driving in Prince William County?

Aggressive driving is much more common on the roads of Prince William County than it is within the courts of Prince William. Aggressive driving is actually an uncommon charge in the Prince William County traffic courts, probably because it is only a Class 2 Misdemeanor instead of a Class 1 Misdemeanor, like reckless driving and street racing. Aggressive driving requires fairly particular elements to prove, so many officers find it convenient to just charge someone with a more serious misdemeanor like reckless driving, which is easier to prove and potentially more punitive to the defendant.

Scenarios That May Lead to Charges

Tailgating is typically the most common form of aggressive driving, followed by speeding up to another vehicle in order to yell at them out of the window or make offensive gestures.

Level of Offense for Aggressive Driving

In Virginia, most forms of aggressive driving are a Class 2 Misdemeanor, which is potentially punishable by up six months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. If the prosecution proves that the aggressive driving was done with the intent to injure another person, it is a Class 1 Misdemeanor potentially punishable by up to a year in jail and up to $2,500 fine. Aggressive driving could also be punished with a requirement to successfully complete an Aggressive Driving Education Program.

What Officers Look For When Pulling Someone Over

Officers may consider charging someone with aggressive driving when they notice road rage behavior that exceeds the normal bounds of frustration on the road and presents an actual safety risk to the drivers involved or the surrounding drivers in the area. An aggressive driving attorney in Prince William County could build a defense case for a defendant to counter an officer’s claims.

Prosecuting Traffic cases in Prince William County

The Commonwealth’s Attorney and assistant prosecutors are the lawyers who prosecute aggressive driving cases in Prince William County on behalf of the state of Virginia. Aggressive driving cases will always be heard in the Prince William County General District Court unless appealed to the Prince William County Circuit Court (or beyond). The only exception to this is if the defendant driver was underage at the time of being charged, in which case the Prince William County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts will hear the case first.

What a Driver Could Expect in a Case

Since there is no legal standard which justifies vehicular force to be used or threatened against another vehicle in self-defense or retaliation, an aggressive driving case will typically involve disputes over whether a traffic infraction actually occurred during road rage, or may involve mitigation arguments about who was the primary aggressor of the road rage and whether it was considered a legitimate risk of injury to anyone. Aggressive driving may also involve the taking of an Aggressive Driving Education Course, whether before trial or as part of a sentence. It may also involve the completion of community service hours to persuade the prosecution to reduce or drop the charge, or to agree upon a certain sentence.

If convicted of aggressive driving, the Department of Motor Vehicles could administratively assign four demerit points to a person’s Virginia Driving record, and the offense will show up on their driving record four or five years. Dissimilar to reckless driving, the court typically does not have the legal authority to suspend someone’s license if they are convicted of aggressive driving.

How Prince William County Aggressive Driving Lawyers Could help

Prince William County aggressive driving lawyers could help arrange for effective pre-trial mitigation strategies with the prosecution and the police officer. A defense attorney could be an important advocate to have in an aggressive driving case since the accused person is typically stereotyped to be a hot-headed driver and may be taken less seriously than a neutral advocate to explain the offending conduct from a favorable perspective.

If a conviction is inevitable, an aggressive driving lawyer could be notably important in minimizing the sentence sought by the prosecution or imposed by the court. Call a lawyer today to learn your rights.