Aggressive Driving

The difference between aggressive driving and road rage in the state of Arizona is that aggressive driving is a traffic offense, while road rage is a criminal offense. Road rage is defined as "an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of another motor vehicle or an assault precipitated by an incident that occurred on a roadway." Road rage requires willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others.

In Tempe, Phoenix or other communities in Maricopa County, if you need legal help involving driving under the influence (DUI) or related traffic offenses it is important that you consult experienced Arizona lawyers like those associated with the Law Offices of Craig W. Penrod, P.C.

Aggressive driving laws were created in the state of Arizona to provide increased regulation and safety on state highways and roadways and may be defined as "operating a motor vehicle in such a manner that endangers persons or property." Many states have enacted aggressive driving statutes that enforce criminal penalties for persons who engage in aggressive driving.

Aggressive driving has been recognized as a danger to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. It usually involves a deliberate endangering of people or property. Thus, aggressive driving laws commonly result in more serious legal consequences than with reckless driving charges.

Arizona has enacted an aggressive driving law that prohibits aggressive driving. According to the statute, a driver commits aggressive driving if a driver:

  • Exceeds a reasonable and prudent speed on the highway, or
  • Exceeds a prescribed speed limit in designated areas including business and residential areas, school crossing zones, and
  • Drives in a manner that causes an immediate hazard to other persons or their property.

The main focus of Arizona's aggressive driving law is the immediate hazard provision. Thus, even if a person is driving within the posted speed limit, they could still be charged with aggressive driving if their driving endangers the safety of others. Additionally, aggressive driving charges can be filed in Arizona if two of the following violations occur:

  • Failing to obey traffic control devices, such as traffic signals;
  • Overtaking or passing another vehicle on the right by driving off of the pavement or main traveled area of the road;
  • Performing an unsafe lane change;-Following another vehicle too closely, usually referred to as tailgating; and
  • Failing to yield the right of way.

According to the state, Arizona's aggressive driving statute, excessive speed may mean:

  • Exceeding 35 miles per hour (mph) at a school crossing;
  • Exceeding the posted speed limit by more than 20 mph in a residential or business district;
  • Exceeding 45 mph in a residential or business district where no speed limit is posted; and
  • Exceeding 85 mph in other locations.

Also, reasonable and prudent speed limits for the designated areas means:

  • 15 mph when approaching a school crossing;
  • 25 mph in a residential or business district; and
  • 65 mph in any other location.

A person who is convicted of aggressive driving in Arizona is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. This will result in the following legal penalties:

  • Suspension of driver's license for 30 days upon conviction;
  • Required attendance in an approved traffic school and educational session designed to improve the safety habits of offenders; and
  • Any other penalties prescribed by law, such as fines or incarceration.

A second conviction for aggressive driving within 24 months of the first conviction will result in a driver's license suspension for one year, and possibly more severe penalties.

The Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety (AZGOHS) places a priority in funding enforcement campaigns targeting speeding and aggressive drivers. Speeding is one of the top three causes of deaths on Arizona's roads and highways. The other causes are impaired driving and failure to be properly restrained by seatbelts.

Speed-related crashes continue to be a leading cause of all traffic fatalities in Arizona. During 2011, speed-related fatalities accounted for 35.64 percent of all traffic fatalities. Speed-related traffic fatalities increased 12.21 percent from 2010 to 294 deaths during 2011. Over the five-year period, 2007-11, speed-related fatalities decreased 12.50 percent. Nationally, there were 10,395 speed-related deaths, accounting for 32 percent of the overall traffic fatalities in 2010.

Arizona is one of only a handful of states that have enacted specific laws that target aggressive driving. These laws define aggressive driving as speeding and at least two of the following components:

  • failure to obey a traffic control device,
  • passing on the right out of regular lanes of traffic,
  • unsafe lane change, following too closely,
  • failure to yield right of way, and
  • is an immediate hazard to another person or vehicle.

The posted speed limit is a law that applies to all traffic lanes, thus technically speaking, there is no fast lane or slow lane. In at least 21 states, slower traffic is expected to keep right, except for emergency vehicles, which are permitted to exceed the posted speed limit, but only when their lights and sirens are in use. In some states, laws specify "keep right except to pass."

Suggested ways to avoid aggressive driving:

  • Expressing frustration: Taking out your frustrations on your fellow motorists can lead to violence or a crash.
  • Failure to pay attention when driving: Reading, eating, drinking or talking on the phone, can be a major cause of roadway crashes.
  • Tailgating: This is a major cause of crashes that can result in serious injury or death.
  • Making frequent lane changes: If you whip in and out of lanes to advance ahead, you can be a danger to other motorists.
  • Running red lights: Do not enter an intersection on a yellow light. Remember flashing red lights should be treated as a stop sign.
  • Speeding: Going faster than the posted speed limit, being a road racer and going too fast for conditions are some examples of speeding.

Suggested methods for avoiding aggressive driving:

  • Concentrate: Don't allow yourself to become distracted by talking on your cellular phone, eating, drinking or putting on makeup.
  • Relax: Tune the radio to your favorite relaxing music. Music can calm your nerves and help you to enjoy your time in the car.
  • Drive the posted speed limit: Fewer crashes occur when vehicles are traveling at or about the same speed.
  • Identify alternate routes: Try mapping out an alternate route. Even if it looks longer on paper, you may find it is less congested.
  • Use public transportation: Public transportation can give you some much-needed relief from life behind the wheel.
  • Just be late: If all else fails, just be late.

What to do if you are confronted by an aggressive driver:

  • Get out of the way: First and foremost, make every attempt to get out of their way.
  • Put your pride aside: Do not challenge them by speeding up or attempting to hold-your-own in your travel lane.
  • Avoid eye contact: Eye contact can sometimes enrage an aggressive driver. Ignore gestures and refuse to return them.
  • Report serious aggressive driving: You or a passenger may call the police. But, if you use a cell phone, pull over to a safe location.

Aggressive driving is punished very severely in the state of Arizona. Violations of aggressive driving laws may result in criminal penalties that may be permanent on one's record. If you are facing aggressive driving charges, you may wish to hire a criminal lawyer. Arizona criminal attorneys can provide much needed advice and representation when dealing with charges for aggressive driving.

It is important that your DUI and related traffic offenses legal situation should be handled by expert professionals with the experience possessed by the attorneys at the Law Offices of Craig W. Penrod, P.C. Our office offers free consultations for all DUI and criminal matters. Our Arizona DUI attorneys and Arizona criminal lawyers can provide you with the experience and knowledge needed for qualified representation. An experienced Arizona DUI lawyer is vital in DUI cases and our DUI attorneys set that standard. If you're in need of a criminal defense, our Arizona criminal attorneys are ready to assist you.