Aggressive driving is a serious offense that can lead to harm or even loss of life. In Georgia, it is also a high and aggravated misdemeanor that the state takes extremely seriously. Drivers who are caught exhibiting aggressive driving behavior can face heavy fines, points on their license, increased insurance rates, or even the loss of their license altogether. The goal of issuing aggressive driving traffic tickets is to raise awareness and encourage drivers to behave in a more responsible and safe manner while behind the wheel. It is essential to remember that safety on the roads is a shared responsibility, and it starts with each and every driver taking their role seriously.
What Constitutes an Aggressive Driving Traffic Violation in Georgia
Aggressive driving is a serious traffic violation in Georgia, as defined by the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) 40-6-397. It occurs when a person operates a motor vehicle with the intent to annoy, harass, molest, intimidate, injure, or obstruct another person. This offense is considered a high and aggravated misdemeanor, carrying severe penalties for those convicted. Let's look at examples of behaviors that could be considered aggressive driving, and then we'll provide examples of actions that would not typically fall under this category.
Examples of Aggressive Driving Behaviors
According to OCGA 40-6-397, aggressive driving includes, but is not limited to, the following behaviors when performed with the intent to annoy, harass, molest, intimidate, injure, or obstruct another person:
- Tailgating: Following another vehicle too closely (violating Code Section 40-6-49).
- Improper Lane Changes: Making unsafe or erratic lane changes without signaling (violating Code Section 40-6-123).
- Failure to Yield: Not yielding the right of way to other vehicles when required (violating Code Section 40-6-42).
- Unsafe Passing: Passing other vehicles in a dangerous manner, such as on the shoulder or in a no-passing zone (violating Code Section 40-6-42).
- Weaving in and Out of Traffic: Repeatedly changing lanes or moving between lanes in an erratic or dangerous manner.
- Excessive Speeding: Driving at speeds significantly above the posted speed limit or too fast for conditions (violating Code Section 40-6-390).
- Blocking Traffic: Intentionally obstructing the flow of traffic by slowing down, stopping, or other means (violating Code Section 40-6-184).
- Ignoring Traffic Signals: Running red lights or stop signs, or failing to obey other traffic control devices (violating Code Section 40-6-390.1).
- Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road: Intentionally driving in the opposite direction of traffic (violating Code Section 40-6-48).
Examples of Non-Aggressive Driving Behaviors
While aggressive driving encompasses a wide range of dangerous behaviors, there are some actions that would not typically be considered aggressive driving, such as:
- Accidental Lane Drift: Briefly drifting into another lane due to distraction or fatigue, without the intent to harass or intimidate other drivers.
- Inadvertent Speeding: Unknowingly exceeding the speed limit by a small margin, without the intent to annoy or endanger other road users.
- Hesitant Driving: Being overly cautious or slow to react to traffic conditions, without the intent to obstruct or harass other drivers.
- Mistaken Traffic Signal: Misinterpreting a traffic signal or sign, leading to an unintentional violation, without the intent to harm or intimidate others.
It is important to note that while these actions may not constitute aggressive driving under OCGA 40-6-397, they could still result in traffic citations or penalties for violating other traffic laws. And, if the ill intent needed for aggressive driving was somehow proven by other evidence or witnesses, you could still find yourself charged with aggressive driving for such behaviors.
As such, aggressive driving is a serious traffic violation in Georgia, characterized by dangerous and intentional actions meant to harass, intimidate, or obstruct other road users. Understanding the difference between aggressive driving behaviors and non-aggressive driving actions can help drivers avoid engaging in risky and unlawful practices, contributing to safer roads for everyone.
Consequences for a Conviction of Aggressive Driving in Georgia
Being convicted of an aggressive driving traffic charge in Georgia carries severe penalties and consequences. This offense is considered a high and aggravated misdemeanor, which can impact your driving privileges, finances, and even your criminal record. Next, we will discuss the consequences of being convicted of aggressive driving in Georgia, including a section on the additional implications for drivers under the age of 21.
Consequences of Aggressive Driving Conviction
If you are convicted of an aggressive driving traffic charge in Georgia, you may face the following consequences:
- Fines: Fines for aggressive driving convictions typically range from $200 to $5,000, depending on the severity of the offense and any prior convictions.
- Jail Time: As a high and aggravated misdemeanor, aggressive driving convictions can result in up to 12 months of jail time.
- Probation: Instead of, or in addition to, jail time, the court may impose probation, which can include reporting to a probation officer, attending driver education classes, and complying with specific conditions set by the court.
- Points on Your License: A conviction for aggressive driving will add six points to your driver's license. Accumulating too many points within a specific time period can lead to increased insurance premiums and potential license suspension.
- Criminal Record: Since aggressive driving is considered a high and aggravated misdemeanor, a conviction will become part of your criminal record, potentially impacting your ability to find employment, housing, and other opportunities.
Consequences for Drivers Under the Age of 21
For drivers under the age of 21, a conviction for aggressive driving carries additional consequences. In Georgia, drivers under 21 who are convicted of aggressive driving will have their license automatically suspended. This is because it is a 6 point offense - and under 21 drivers do not have the option to use a nolo contendere or no contest plea to avoid the points being assessed.
The duration of the suspension will be for at least 6 months, with no possibility of a limited permit available. This means you cannot drive at all during this time. To reinstate their license once the suspension period has expired, drivers under 21 must complete a driver improvement clinic and pay a reinstatement fee, which starts at $210. Additionally, they may be required to retake the driving test.
As we've seen, being convicted of an aggressive driving traffic charge in Georgia carries significant consequences, particularly for drivers under the age of 21. Understanding the severity of these penalties is essential for all drivers to avoid engaging in aggressive driving behaviors and to promote safer roads for everyone. If you are facing an aggressive driving charge, it is advisable to consult with an experienced attorney right away who can help you navigate the legal process and work towards the best possible outcome for your case.
Possible Legal Defenses Against Aggressive Driving Charges
If you are facing aggressive driving traffic charges in Georgia, it is essential to understand your legal rights and the potential defenses that may be available to you. While it is always advisable to consult with an experienced attorney for personalized advice, below we will outline some possible legal defenses that could be used to fight aggressive driving charges.
1. Lack of Intent
A crucial element of the aggressive driving charge is the intent to annoy, harass, molest, intimidate, injure, or obstruct another person. Your attorney may argue that your actions were not intentional or malicious but instead resulted from a momentary lapse in judgment, distraction, or other factors. If your attorney can create reasonable doubt about your intent, the prosecution may have difficulty proving their case.
In some cases, the accusing party may have misidentified your vehicle as the one involved in the aggressive driving incident. Your attorney can present evidence, such as witness statements, surveillance footage, or even GPS data, to demonstrate that you were not the driver responsible for the aggressive behavior.
Your attorney may argue that your actions were necessary to avoid an immediate threat or danger. For example, if you had to swerve into another lane to avoid a collision, your attorney could argue that your actions were not aggressive but rather a response to an emergency situation.
4. Exaggeration or False Accusation
In some instances, the accusing party may have exaggerated the events or falsely accused you of aggressive driving. Your attorney may present evidence or witness testimony to challenge the credibility of the accuser and demonstrate that your behavior did not meet the criteria for aggressive driving.
5. Violation of Constitutional Rights
Your attorney may argue that the evidence against you was obtained in violation of your constitutional rights. For example, if the police officer did not have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to pull you over, any evidence obtained during the stop may be deemed inadmissible in court. An experienced attorney can evaluate your case for potential constitutional violations and determine if this defense strategy is appropriate.
In conclusion, there are several potential legal defenses that can be used to fight aggressive driving traffic charges in Georgia. It is crucial to consult with a knowledgeable attorney who can evaluate your case and provide guidance on the most appropriate defense strategy for your unique situation. By understanding your legal rights and options, you can make informed decisions and work towards the best possible outcome for your case.
How We Can Help
Aggressive driving charges can be a cause of concern for anyone who is facing them in Georgia - particularly for those drivers under the age of 21. At Your Law Firm, we understand the stress that comes with these charges, and we are here to help. Our team will take the time to carefully examine all the evidence in your case and provide you with legal counsel on any available defenses. If you choose to fight the charges, we will be with you every step of the way to ensure that your rights are protected. And if the evidence is not in your favor, we will advocate for a reduction in charges if possible. No matter what, you can count on us to provide you with the guidance and support that you deserve. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you with your aggressive driving traffic charges.