Aggressive Driving Traffic Offense in Georgia
Aggressive driving is a criminal offense in Georgia.
This means that one brief moment when you lose your temper on the roads can lead to a lifelong criminal record.
As harsh as this may seem, anyone familiar with the state’s strict traffic laws knows that there is no such thing as an “innocent mistake” on Georgia’s roads.
Without the guidance and legal advice of an experienced traffic offense lawyer, it can be extremely difficult to avoid serious consequences from an aggressive driving charge.
Speak to Adam D. Brown for a free case evaluation and a clear understanding of the legal steps that can be taken.
What is the aggressive driving law in Georgia?
Georgia has some of the strictest driving laws in the country.
The aggressive driving law is a good indication of this. It covers a wide variety of behavior, as laid out in Georgia Code § 40-6-397(a).
Aggressive driving is defined as:
“Intent to annoy, harass, molest, intimidate, injure or obstruct another person, while doing one of the following: overtaking and passing another vehicle; violating traffic lane markings; following too closely; violating signal, lane change, slowing or stopping laws; impeding traffic flows; reckless driving.”
Note that you can be charged with aggressive driving even if no other driver was directly affected by your actions. Your behavior could be directed towards a passenger in your vehicle or another road user.
The law is open to the interpretation of police officers, who must make judgments and determine whether behavior behind the wheel can be construed as “aggressive” according to the above definitions.
In truth, there are probably few drivers in the state who have not been guilty of such behavior at least once in their lives.
However, if you are stopped, arrested, and charged with aggressive driving, the repercussions can be serious.
How is aggressive driving different from reckless driving?
Most drivers are more familiar with the charge of reckless driving than aggressive driving and it is a far more common charge in Georgia.
Reckless driving is driving with a reckless disregard for people and/or property. It does not require intentional threatening behavior directed against a specific individual, like with aggressive driving.
Reckless driving aimed at annoying, harassing, molesting, intimidating, injuring or obstructing another person can be considered aggressive driving, which is a more serious charge.
However, it is a difficult charge for the prosecution to prove, which may help to explain why reckless driving charges are more common.
What are some typical examples of aggressive driving?
To clarify the charge of aggressive driving, it may help to consider a few obvious examples:
- Purposely cutting off another driver
- Changing lanes without indicating
- Flashing headlights/high beams to intimidate another driver
- Offensive gesturing to another driver
- Speeding well in excess of the limit
- Tailgating another driver in order to annoy them into moving to a slower lane
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Using the horn to intimidate another road user
- Passing other vehicles in no-passing zones
Sometimes, driving that is interpreted by law enforcement officers as “aggressive” is used as probable cause to stop and investigate a driver for DUI.
Is aggressive driving the same as “road rage”?
Many people think of aggressive driving as the legal term for “road rage”.
With the congestion and slow-moving traffic on downtown streets and highways in Georgia, frustration can turn into aggression.
Many drivers targeted with aggressive behavior will respond in kind.
What are the penalties for aggressive driving?
If you are convicted of aggressive driving, it is considered a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.
The penalties are, therefore, harsher than with reckless driving and may include the following:
- A fine up to $5,000
- A jail term of up to 12 months
- Six points added to your license
- A six-month license suspension if you are under the age of 21 (this is a “hard” suspension and you will be ineligible for a limited use driving permit)
The points added to your license may result in a suspension if you are over the age of 21 and results in an accumulation of 15 points within a consecutive 24-month period.
In addition to the criminal and driving privilege penalties, you may also be the subject of a civil lawsuit if your aggressive driving actions resulted in injury to another individual.
Why is there a focus on aggressive driving in Georgia?
Georgia law enforcement may charge you with aggressive driving for behavior that, in their opinion, is criminal and/or could lead to a more serious crime being committed.
Normally mild-mannered people can become aggressive behind the wheel due to impatience and frustration on the roads.
Aggressive driving can be used to terrifying effect and may even be a precursor to a more serious crime. For instance, it may lead to a road rage incident that involves the use of a firearm or a deliberate collision.
If you are involved in an incident that results in an aggressive driving charge, getting professional legal guidance is essential.
The prosecution will mount a case against you based on the interpretations of the police officers and the evidence may be questionable.
In order to secure a conviction, they will need to demonstrate that an intentional act was directed at a specific person. An experienced defense lawyer will make this difficult for them.
Contact an experienced aggressive driving lawyer in Gwinnett County
If you have been charged with aggressive driving in the Gwinnett County area, seek the assistance of an experienced lawyer who is familiar with defending such cases.
Arrange a free consultation with the Law Office of Adam D. Brown to consider your legal options.