For those who are frequently on the roads and have a tendency to let their emotions get the better of them, the term “road rage” may be mildly familiar. While it may seem unlikely that “road rage” has any impact legally, it just may fall into one of two categories: aggressive driving or reckless driving . Finding yourself accused of aggressive or reckless driving can leave you in the hot seat when it comes to the law.
According to the Foundation for Traffic Safety, about 8 out of 10 drivers surveyed in the foundation’s annual report ranked aggressive driving as a “serious” or “extremely serious” risk that bears upon their safety. If you’re concerned about your own driving habits or if your driving has already gotten you into trouble, here is an overview of both aggressive and reckless driving so that you can stay informed about the legalities of the issue and your rights.
What is “Reckless Driving” in Arizona?
While a civil speeding citation may not land you in jail or impact your ability to drive, reckless driving is a much more serious offense that could lead to major consequences. First and foremost, unlike regular traffic citations, reckless driving is a misdemeanor criminal offense, which means it could leave you with a criminal record, fines, and jail time as potential consequences.
Arizona Revised Statutes 28-693 defines reckless driving as “driving a vehicle in a reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property.” As you can probably tell, this definition of reckless driving is fairly vague, because it does not identify what the term “reckless” actually means. Essentially, the state must prove you acted “recklessly” based on the actions you took while driving. They may try to accomplish this by arguing you were aware of a risk and consciously disregarded it. In terms of driving, “recklessness” is often established by high speeds, following too closely (tailgating), swerving, changing lanes unsafely, and driving in a manner that puts others at risk.
What are the Penalties for Reckless Driving?
Arizona deems reckless driving to be a class 2 misdemeanor. Those who are convicted of reckless driving may be required to surrender their licenses and their driving privileges may be suspended for a period of no more than 90 days. You’ll be required to attend Traffic Survival School. Keep in mind that if you were convicted and charged with reckless driving in the past, the offense is now a class 1 misdemeanor and the penalties are higher. Higher penalties often include probation, up to 4 months in jail, a fine over $700 and surcharges.
What is “Aggressive Driving”?
Aggressive driving is much more serious than reckless driving because it comes with greater penalties and the risk you pose to others is higher. According to A.R.S. 28-695, aggressive driving entails driving beyond a reasonably prudent speed (speeding) and any two of the following actions:
- Failure to obey traffic control devices
- Passing up another vehicle on the right by driving off the pavement
- Unsafe lane changes
- Failure to yield to the right-of-way
- Driving in a manner that poses an immediate hazard to another person or vehicle
As you can tell, aggressive driving poses a higher risk and entails actions that deviate greatly from the normal standard of driving that those on the road are expected to adhere to. Being charged with aggressive driving can also lead to serious consequences.
Consequences of Aggressive Driving
Those who are charged with aggressive driving face severe consequences. In Arizona, aggressive driving is a class 1 misdemeanor. This means that if found guilty, you face mandatory traffic survival school, a suspension of your driver’s license, significant fines and potential jail time.
If you have been convicted of aggressive driving within 24 months of the current conviction, then the punishment is worse. Now, you face a revocation of your driver’s license for one year. Sometimes, your aggressive driving charges may impact your ability to attain insurance because some companies refuse to insure high-risk individuals with an aggressive driving record.
Defenses to Reckless and Aggressive Driving
If you are facing reckless or aggressive driving charges, then the best course of action that you can take is to hire a Phoenix traffic defense attorney. An attorney will be able to provide you with the guidance and support that you need as you navigate through the legal system. Your attorney will examine the facts and evidence against you and argue potential defenses, which may possibly mitigate the offense or dismiss the charges against you. Here are the defenses that your attorney may try to use:
Failing to Meet Statutory Requirements
For Reckless Driving, your attorney may argue there were no other vehicles on the road so you were not acting recklessly. For Aggressive Driving, your attorney may argue the required elements of speed plus two other moving violations did not occur.
Another common problem that arises is that the officer violated your right to counsel. When you are in custody and request to speak to an attorney, officers are required to refrain from asking you questions and they must oblige your request. Failure to do so is another violation that can impact the charges against you.
Inadequate Police Report
Finally, the officer may have written a poor police report. Doing so suggests that the officer may have used misleading or false information in writing your report and potentially exaggerating your driving habits.
Tyler Allen Law Firm
At Tyler Allen Law Firm, our lawyers are dedicated to protecting our clients against reckless and aggressive driving charges. If you have been charged with aggressive or reckless driving, then contact us today for a free consultation. We will be able to provide you with the quality representation you deserve in defending your rights and will help you navigate through the legal system every step of the way.