A charge for Aggressive Driving in Virginia falls under Va. Code § 46.2-868.1. Aggressive driving can be charged as a Class 1 or Class 2 Misdemeanor, depending on whether the officer believes the offense was committed “with the intent to injure another person.” This means that a judge’s punishment could include a potential fine of up to $1,000 (if a class 2) or $2,500 (if class 1) and a potential jail sentence of up to 6 months (if class 2) or 12 months (if class 1). The offense carries four DMV demerit points and stays on a driving record for five years.
Va. Code § 46.2-868.1 explains:
A. A person is guilty of aggressive driving if (i) the person violates one or more of the following: § 46.2-802 (Drive on right side of highways), § 46.2-804 (Failure to observe lanes marked for traffic), § 46.2-816 (Following too closely), § 46.2-821 (Vehicles before entering certain highways shall stop or yield right-of-way), § 46.2-833.1 (Evasion of traffic control devices), § 46.2-838 (Passing when overtaking a vehicle), § 46.2-841 (When overtaking vehicle may pass on right), § 46.2-842 (Driver to give way to overtaking vehicle), § 46.2-842.1 (Driver to give way to certain overtaking vehicles on divided highway), § 46.2-843 (Limitations on overtaking and passing), any provision of Article 8 (§ 46.2-870 et seq.) of Chapter 8 of Title 46.2 (Speed), or § 46.2-888 (Stopping on highways); and (ii) that person is a hazard to another person or commits an offense in clause (i) with the intent to harass, intimidate, injure or obstruct another person.
B. Aggressive driving shall be punished as a Class 2 misdemeanor. However, aggressive driving with the intent to injure another person shall be punished as a Class 1 misdemeanor. In addition to the penalties described in this subsection, the court may require successful completion of an aggressive driving program.
As you can see, an Aggressive Driving charge can be more tricky for the Commonwealth to prove than a standard reckless driving charge. The Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that not only were you committing one of 12 different types of offenses, but that you also had the specific intent to “harass, intimidate, injure or obstruct another person.” This type of specific intent can be difficult to establish, but is usually proven by evidence of statements that were made to the police officer or another driver. Or specific intent can be inferred by a judge based on the testimony before him.
This means that one of the best defenses to this charge is to argue that the required specific intent was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the Commonwealth.
Even if the facts do not look favorable for you, it may still be possible to convince a judge that you deserve a dismissal or amendment to a less serious charge. In such a case, we may suggest offering mitigating evidence to the judge in the form of completion of driving school, aggressive driving school, proof of a good record, community service, and more. What we recommend to our client depends on the facts and circumstances of each case, since every case is different and unique.