If you have been charged with aggressive driving, you should understand at the outset that it is a serious criminal charge, and that you should consult with an experienced Phoenix criminal lawyer. At Feldman & Royle, we represent clients charged with criminal traffic offenses. We understand the seriousness of an aggressive driving charge, and we know how to provide you with the best chance of a dismissal, a reduction in the charge, or a not guilty verdict.
What is Aggressive Driving in Arizona?
Aggressive driving is defined in detail in A.R.S. 28-695. It does not mean that you necessarily acted aggressively, as that term is used in everyday speech. The statute is very clear about what needs to be proven in order to be convicted of the offense. It requires more than just speeding; more than shifting lanes in an unsafe manner; more than tailgating. The offense is defined as:
- Driving faster than is reasonable or prudent under the circumstances (or driving at an excessive speed), and
- At least two of the following:
- failure to obey the instructions of a traffic control device (stop light, etc.);
- passing another vehicle on the right, by leaving the pavement or the traveled portion of the road;
- making an unsafe lane change;
- tailgating; and/or
- failure to yield the right of way.
What all this means is that there are very specific conditions that need to be met to make a case of aggressive driving.
Classification and Penalties for Aggressive Driving
Unlike some minor traffic violations, aggressive driving is a crime, a class 1 misdemeanor. It bears a higher classification, and more severe penalties, than most traffic violations, including reckless driving, which is a class 2 misdemeanor. Penalties for aggressive driving include a fine, traffic school, and a possible 30-day suspension of your driver’s license. As with other class 1 misdemeanors, there is at least the possibility of jail time, up to a maximum of six months.
For a second offense within 24 months, the offense is still a class 1 misdemeanor. However, in addition to the penalties for a first-time offender, the statute calls for a mandatory one-year suspension of your driving privileges.
Defenses to an Aggressive Driving Charge
If you are charged with aggressive driving, remember that, like other criminal cases, it is the prosecutor’s job to prove each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. While every case is different, here are some of the defenses that may apply:
- Failure to satisfy the specifics of the statute. Simply because a police officer believes you were being aggressive on the road, and that you may have engaged in some questionable driving behavior, is not enough for a conviction. To be found guilty, there must be sufficient evident of speeding, plus two of the additional violations listed in the statue.
- Right to counsel. As a suspect in a criminal case, you are entitled to all the constitutional protections that apply, including the right to counsel. If, for example, you provided an admission but were not advised of your right to remain silent, the statement may be inadmissible in court.
- Inconsistent or exculpatory statements by the police. Statements made by the officer are admissible to show inconsistencies. If the police report is inconsistent with his later testimony or with statements described by witnesses, or if any of the statements contain exculpatory material, they can be used to your benefit, either at trial or in a pretrial motion.
In sum, while aggressive driving is a serious charge, the evidence offered by the prosecutor can be challenged. And the way to provide yourself with the best chance of a dismissal or other positive result in your case is to hire the right lawyer for your case.
Phoenix Aggressive Driving Defense Attorney
Facing an aggressive driving charge exposes you to significant penalties. At Feldman & Royle, we are experienced vehicular crimes lawyers. We understand the seriousness of the charge, and we know how best to mount a successful defense. Call us to schedule a free consultation, and find out how our firm can help.