What is the difference between reckless driving and aggressive driving?

Under Virginia law, certain types of behaviors can be charged as either reckless driving or aggressive driving. Which citation you receive will depend on the perceived intent behind your actions. Aggresive and reckless driving

Comparing Reckless Driving to Aggressive Driving

Reckless driving can encompass the following behaviors:

  • Excessive speed
  • Driving too fast for road conditions
  • Passing on a grade or on a curve, passing two vehicles abreast, passing a stopped school bus, or passing at the railroad crossing
  • Driving with your view obstructed
  • Driving two abreast in a single lane
  • Not using proper signals
  • Failure to yield
  • Drag racing

Aggressive driving is a charge that involves behaviors intended to “harass, intimidate, injure, or obstruct” other motorists. This can include:

  • Speeding
  • Ignoring traffic signs or signals
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road or outside designated lanes
  • Improper passing
  • Failure to yield
  • Tailgating
  • Stopping on a highway

The primary difference between reckless driving and aggressive driving is that reckless driving only requires that you engage in unsafe behavior. Aggressive driving requires unsafe behavior with the intent to harass or scare other drivers—similar to what’s referred to as road rage.

Both reckless driving and aggressive driving are typically considered misdemeanors. This means they are criminal charges, unlike a simple traffic violation such as a speeding ticket.

Legal Representation Is Essential

Reckless driving and aggressive driving convictions carry stiff penalties, including fines, jail time, and the stigma of a criminal record. A conviction will result in higher insurance rates as well as difficulty passing a pre-employment background check. Drivers who are in the military, applying to medical school, or seeking a green card to become a permanent U.S. resident will also find that a conviction can cause problems for many years to come.

Virginia defense attorney Charles V. Hardenbergh is committed to helping drivers beat both aggressive driving and reckless driving charges. His skilled representation draws on his past experience as a JAG officer, law professor, and federal prosecutor. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.