What is Aggressive Driving Under Virginia Law?
If you have driven on the roads of northern Virginia for any amount of time, you have most likely seen what you consider to be aggressive driving. Every day you can see cars driving 30 or 40 miles an hour over the speed limit, lane changes within a hair’s breadth of other cars, five lane changes in the span of ten seconds and headlight flashing, horn honking demands for other drivers to get out of the way. These are all things most of us consider to be aggressive driving, but what does Virginia law consider to be aggressive driving?
Virginia’s Aggressive Driving Law
When you pass from Virginia into Maryland on many major roads, you often see signs that promise enforcement against aggressive driving. When you go the opposite direction, the signs are not nearly as visible. So, what does Virginia consider to be aggressive driving?
Virginia does have an aggressive driving statute. It classifies 12 different behaviors as aggressive driving when the behavior is a hazard to another person or is done with the intent to harass, intimidate, injure, or obstruct another person. These specific behaviors are:
Driving on the right side of highways
Failing to observe lanes marked for traffic
Following too closely
Failing to stop or yield when entering certain highways
Evading traffic control devices
Passing a vehicle on the right unless allowed by law
Passing a vehicle on the left in an improper manner
Failing to give way to an overtaking vehicle
Failing to give way to faster traffic on a divided highway
Passing on the left if the way is not clear
Violating any speed provision of Title 46.2, Article 8, Chapter 8 (Virginia’s laws governing motor vehicles) and
Stopping on a roadway in a manner that impedes traffic unless required by an emergency or a mechanical breakdown
Think about your last commute to work. Everyone knows that there are areas on northern Virginia roads where traffic backs up and people get into the right lane via the shoulder of the road. Chances are, in this instance, at least three of the above referenced laws have been violated! Drivers who pull off this particular maneuver have failed to observe lanes marked for traffic, passed a vehicle on the right where it is not allowed by law, and driven on the right side of a highway, and they could conceivably be charged for each.
Creating a Hazard or Intending to Harm or Harass
In the above example, law enforcement could possibly charge aggressive driving. This is because, by pulling onto the shoulder to get into the right turn lane, a driver is creating a hazard to drivers who are following the law and waiting for the right lane to open before they get into it. Certainly, there is no intent to harm or intimidate anyone in this case, but there does not have to be.
The nature of driving in northern Virginia creates many opportunities to be cited for aggressive driving. It is very serious and is, in fact, a Class Two misdemeanor or, if there is intent to injure, a Class One misdemeanor. If you have been charged with aggressive driving in northern Virginia, you need an experienced defense attorney to help build your defense. Jad Sarsour has been defending clients against this type of charge for over a decade. Give him a call at (571) 261-7314 to set up your initial consultation and begin defending your rights today.