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Virginia Law: Aggressive Driving

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What is Aggressive Driving? The Commonwealth of Virginia has the strictest driving laws of any State in the Union. Virginia license holders and out-of-state drivers who regularly commute to Virgina would do well to read the “Virginia Driver’s Manual” to avoid making mistakes or committing offenses that, sooner or later, would result in an expensive Aggressive Driving charge and a criminal record.  Yes, you read that correctly! Many traffic violations in VA are criminal offenses and will earn you at least a Class 2 misdemeanor charge.  If you are charged with “Aggressive Driving with the Intent to Injure Another Person”, the penalty is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

The following are a few of the most common traffic violations that can be classified as Aggressive Driving:

Evasion of a traffic control device.   It might not seem like a big deal to take a shortcut behind a shopping center, for example, but if this “shortcut” allows you to circumvent a traffic light, then it could be considered “Evasion of Traffic Control Device” if the exit you take lacks any type of traffic control device (which may be defined as a traffic lights, flashing lights, stop signs, road surface markings, rumble strips, and so on).

Following too closely. Drivers must not follow another another vehicles follow “more closely than is reasonable and prudent” (Commonwealth § 46.2-816).  The definition of “reasonable and prudent” is not an absolute and takes into consideration the speed of both vehicle, traffic conditions, and weather conditions.  For example, in stop-and-go traffic, safe following distance is much shorter than at highway speeds.

Failure to drive on right side of highways. Commonwealth Statute § 46.2-802 tells us that “on all highways of sufficient width, the driver of a vehicle shall drive on the right half of the highway”, except in instances where the right side of the road is blocked or otherwise impassible, or when instructed to drive on the left (such as a police officer directing traffic or a flagger in a construction zone), drivers are permitted to drive on the left side of the highway.  Drivers may also use the left side of the road for overtaking and passing, though these maneuvers are subject to other Commonwealth Statutes. Failure to observe lanes marked for traffic.   Drivers must obey signs, markings or traffic devices that create traffic lanes (including temporary lanes).  For instance, double traffic lines down the middle of the road divide lanes into right and left lanes, and drivers must make every reasonable effort to stay in their own lane except when making left turns.  There are numerous other statutes that deal with, and place limitations on, the passing of another vehicle on the left or the right. ​

Other actions that are chargeable as aggressive driving include:

  • Running stop signs or red lights

  • Making angry, rude, or obscene hand or facial gestures at another driver

  • Shouting, screaming, honking, or flashing your lights at other drivers

  • Weaving in and out of traffic

  • Improper and unsafe lane changes

Do I Need An Attorney if I am Charged With Aggressive Driving? Most definitely!  Remember, Aggressive Driving is a Class 2 or Class 1 Misdemeanor, meaning that it is a criminal offense and is punishable by fines, penalties and even possible jail time.  If convicted, you will have a criminal record which may affect your employment, future job prospects or career advancement, college education, or even your ability to rent an apartment.   The smartest thing you can do after being charged with Aggressive Driving is to retain the services of a qualified attorney who can provide you with an effective legal defense that will  minimize the penalties, allow you to plead to a lesser charge, or in best-case scenario, get the charges against you dropped.

More questions? Contact The Smith Firm PLLC for a free initial consultation.

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