Road Rage—Is It Considered Reckless Driving or Aggressive Driving?

road rage- reckless or aggressive driving

Have you ever been cut off in traffic, sending your heart rate into overdrive? Slammed on the brakes for a tailgater who seems oblivious to the space between cars? Have you witnessed someone lose their mind and yell obscenities at another driver? That’s road rage, and Virginia ranks #4 in the nation for it.

You likely have many questions, such as is road rage a crime, and how does it differ from other dangerous driving behaviors? More importantly, what are your options if you find yourself in hot water due to a road rage incident?

What Is Road Rage?

Road rage refers to aggressive or violent behavior by drivers who are fueled by anger and frustration. Often, it’s triggered by what drivers perceive as rude or aggressive actions by others. While some might think road rage is just yelling and obscene gestures, it can escalate way beyond that, leading to dangerous situations like:

  • Intentionally cutting someone off,
  • Swerving towards another car in a threatening way,
  • Tailgating aggressively to intimidate,
  • Getting out of your vehicle to confront another driver, or
  • Using your car as a weapon.

Road rage can have devastating consequences, including accidents, injuries, and even fatalities. The best way to avoid these situations altogether? Stay calm and patient behind the wheel.

Is Road Rage a Crime?

While “road rage” itself isn’t a specific criminal offense in Virginia (or most states), the actions you take during a rage episode certainly can be. Many aggressive driving behaviors associated with road rage fall under the umbrella of reckless driving, which is a criminal offense in Virginia and comes with severe penalties.

Virginia Laws: Aggressive Driving vs. Reckless Driving

Road rage isn’t a specific crime, but Virginia has two laws that address the dangerous actions that often occur during these incidents: aggressive driving and reckless driving.

Aggressive Driving

Think of aggressive driving as a pattern of driving behaviors that disregards the safety of others. Examples include:

  • Tailgating too closely,
  • Speeding excessively,
  • Making reckless lane changes,
  • Passing illegally, and
  • Failing to yield the right of way.

Although aggressive driving can be dangerous, it often doesn’t involve the intention to harm others.

If you’re caught aggressively driving in Virginia, you could face the following:

  • A hefty fine of up to $2,500,
  • Possible jail, and
  • Six demerit points added to your license, potentially leading to suspension

Reckless Driving

This is a more severe offense than aggressive driving. Reckless driving involves a driver’s conscious disregard for the safety of others on the road. Think of it as intentionally creating a dangerous situation. Examples include:

The consequences of reckless driving in Virginia are harsher, including:

  • Up to a year in jail,
  • A fine of up to $2,500, and
  • License suspension.

Even if you aren’t charged with road rage specifically, the actions you take during a rage episode can lead to serious consequences under Virginia’s aggressive driving and reckless driving laws.

Aggressive Driving vs. Road Rage

The key difference lies in intent. Aggressive driving is about creating a dangerous situation, while road rage involves a specific desire to harm or intimidate another driver. So, yelling and obscene gestures might be considered aggressive driving, but attempting to ram another car is road rage, potentially leading to reckless driving charges.

Can You Get a Ticket for Road Rage?

Absolutely. You could face a traffic citation if your road rage manifests as aggressive driving behavior.

Is Road Rage a Traffic Infraction or a Criminal Offense in Virginia?

During a road rage incident, your actions can fall under aggressive driving, a class 2 misdemeanor. Your actions could be considered reckless driving, a class 1 criminal misdemeanor in severe cases.

Can an Aggressive Driving or Reckless Driving Charge Be Dismissed in Virginia?

There are possibilities for getting an aggressive driving or reckless driving charge dismissed, but it depends on the specific circumstances of your case. Here are some potential scenarios:

  • Insufficient evidence. If the police cannot provide enough evidence to support the charge, it may be dismissed.
  • Procedural errors. If the police made a mistake during the arrest or investigation, the charge may be dismissed.
  • Driver improvement course. In some cases, you can take a driver improvement course to have the charge reduced or dismissed.

It’s essential to consult with an attorney focusing on traffic offenses to discuss your specific situation and explore your options.

I’ve Been Charged with Aggressive Driving or Road Rage in Virginia. What Should I Do?

Avoid speaking to the police without a lawyer present. Contact a skilled attorney with experience in similar traffic offenses.

Facing an Aggressive Driving or Road Rage Charge? Contact Flusche & Fitzgerald

Being charged with aggressive or reckless driving can severely impact your future. At Flusche & Fitzgerald, we understand the complex nature of Virginia traffic laws. Our experienced traffic defense attorneys have a successful track record of defending individuals facing charges of reckless driving, DUI/DWI, and misdemeanors in Spotsylvania and the surrounding areas.

We are dedicated to providing effective legal representation, protecting your rights, and helping you achieve the best possible outcome.

Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case and explore your legal options.

Andrew Flusche

My name is Andrew Flusche. I am a traffic and misdemeanor defense lawyer in Virginia. I limit my practice to traffic tickets and misdemeanor defense, so I know the ins and outs of these offenses. I literally wrote the book on reckless driving in Virginia which you can get on Amazon here or download for free here. I opened my practice in 2008 after earning my Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. Since then, I have earned over 600 5-star reviews from happy clients on Google, Yelp, and Facebook. If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor offense in Virginia, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Your initial consultation is always free, and you'll talk directly with me about the details of your case.

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