The difference between aggressive driving and reckless driving is often unclear. There is a difference between the two and there is a difference in the penalties for each. Both aggressive and reckless driving are dangerous to others on the road. The best way to understand the difference between aggressive driving and reckless driving is to review the definition of each in the Virginia Code.
What is Aggressive Driving?
Aggressive driving includes a number of driving behaviors engaged in with the intention “to harass intimidate, injure, or obstruct” other drivers. These driving behaviors may include:
- Illegal passing.
- Failure to stop or to yield the right of way when appropriate.
- Driving outside the designated lanes.
- Making unsafe lane changes.
- Cutting off another driver.
- Driving on the wrong side of the road.
- Ignoring traffic signs and signals.
- Stopping on a highway.
These are the kinds of driving behaviors typically associated with road rage. This explains the qualification regarding the intention of the behavior.
Penalties: When aggressive driving is intended to injure another person (or does injure another person) it is classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor. This carries the penalty of jail time for up to 12 months and/or a fine of up to $2,500. When there are no injuries as a result of the driving behavior, the aggressive driving is considered a Class 2 misdemeanor. This carries the penalty of jail time of up to six months and/or a fine of up to $1,000. In addition, drivers found guilty of aggressive driving may be required to complete an aggressive driving program.
What is Reckless Driving?
Reckless driving is defined in the Virginia Code to include several driving behaviors or acts. These acts or behaviors include:
- Driving in a way that endangers other people or property.
- Driving a vehicle that is not under adequate control or that has inadequately adjusted brakes.
- Passing another vehicle when approaching the crest of a hill or a curve where the view is obstructed.
- Driving when one’s view to the front or sides of the vehicle is obstructed.
- Driving when someone or something is interfering with one’s control of the driving mechanism.
- Passing, or attempting to pass, two vehicles abreast.
- Driving abreast of another vehicle in a lane designed for a single vehicle.
- Passing or overtaking another vehicle at a railroad crossing or at an intersection.
- Passing a stopped school bus under specific conditions.
- Failing to provide timely and sufficient signals of the intention to turn, slow down, or stop.
- Exceeding a reasonable speed in light of the traffic circumstances at the time.
- Driving at a speed 20 mph or move over the speed limit.
- Driving at a speed greater than 80 mph.
- Failing to yield the right of way under certain circumstances.
- Driving in any way that endangers people or property near churches, schools, recreational facilities, business property, roads under construction, and other similar locations.
Penalties: Reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor. This carries the penalty of up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. It carries 6 DMV points, and it can result in suspension of one’s driver’s license for up to 6 months.
Both reckless driving and aggressive driving involve dangerous driving behaviors that can result in serious harm to another or to one self. The primary difference between the two is the intent to do harm. These violations are taken seriously in the Commonwealth of Virginia. If you or a loved one has been charged with either aggressive driving or reckless driving, it is in your best interest to engage the services of an attorney to represent you. In addition to the penalties, conviction will result in a criminal record.
In the face of a charge of reckless or aggressive driving call the experienced and trusted attorneys of Altizer Law, P.C. We are here to help you or your loved one to obtain fair and just treatment in resolving your case.
Virginia Code 46.2-862, 46.2-852, 46.2-853; 46.2-868.1.