Aggressive Driving Charges In Arizona

Today we’re talking about aggressive driving.

This is something that most of us are probably guilty of every single day, but we’re gonna run through the statute so you understand how it works, and better yet how to build some defenses around breaking down the statute.

So aggressive driving is a very serious charge. It’s a Class 1 misdemeanor. It has eight points that can be assessed to your license. This is the same essential penalties that you would get if you were convicted of a DUI.

So we see this charge a lot. Police really like to write it because it is so severe, but let’s break down how the statute works. So the statute is defined by Arizona Revised Statutes 28-695. And if you look it up, it’s a little bit complicated, it’s not very clear.

There’s a number of different ways that you can be charged and convicted of aggressive driving.

So first of all, you need to be doing something, you need to either be speeding or criminally speeding, and then you need to be an immediate hazard to everybody else around you.

If those two things are occurring, you’re speeding and you’re a hazard, you also have to be responsible or found guilty of doing any two of these following things.

So the statute will break down and list out a series of other different conduct, and if you are doing any two of them, plus speeding or criminal speeding, and all of that activity constitutes you being an immediate hazard to other people on the road, you can be charged with and convicted of aggressive driving.

And so let’s take a quick look and see what that other conduct is or can be. Number one, you’re failing to obey a traffic control device.

So I have this shorthand here, FTOTCD, failure to obey a traffic control device. A traffic control device is really anything that’s on the road that controls traffic. It can be signed, it can be lights, it can be traffic cones, it can be speed bumps, it can be a number of different things that are designed to control traffic.

So if you’re disobeying, if you’re not obeying one of those traffic control devices, that’s one. Now that’s a very broad statute. It’s very very broad.

So it really can be almost anything that’s out there on the road, but this is a civil offense that is defined elsewhere in the chapter, in Title 28.

So if you want to know exactly what that means, let’s say, you’re failing to obey a traffic control device, you can look up the specifics of that, but I just paraphrased it for you. Number two, another way that you can be in violation of this or one of the other activities that are prohibited is an unsafe lane change. Pretty self-explanatory. If an officer sees you weaving in and out of traffic if you’re not using your blinker and you’re speeding and all of those things, that can be one element of aggressive driving.

The other way is if you’re overtaking and you’re passing somebody on the right. So you’re not supposed to do that. You’re not supposed to pass traffic on the right. And this specifically prohibits you from going off of the road to do that.

So if you go out of the lane, if you go into the median, if you go onto the side of the road, if you go up on the pavement, if you go up on the sidewalks, that’s prohibited behavior. Another reason, another way, another violation is following too closely.

So if an officer sees you following too closely, that’s another civil violation. You can be cited civilly for that, but that is one of the different elements. The other one is a failure to yield. So we see this a lot in roundabouts or if somebody is making a quick turn, they’re not looking at the oncoming traffic, so they’re speeding, they make a quick turn, that can be another one of those prohibited activities.

So if you have any one of those, that’s not enough, you need two of them. So you need to be speeding, you need to commit two of these different violations, and you need to be an immediate hazard to others on the road. Those are the elements of aggressive driving.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s a Class 1 misdemeanor, and it has eight points. The Motor Vehicle Department or the judge can also suspend your license for up to 30 days. It’s not required but if the MVD gets notice of this and the judge checks the right box or orders your license to be suspended, it will be.

If you get a second violation of aggressive driving within 24 months, your license is gonna be revoked. They’re gonna just pull it from you for one year. The MVD is not even gonna think twice about it. They’ll just revoke it.

The other penalty here with the MVD when you get up to eight points or if you get a conviction for aggressive driving is you have to take traffic survival school. So this is a penalty. It doesn’t dismiss points. Some people will think that if you take a traffic school, it’s gonna dismiss something or any of that stuff.

It doesn’t do that. It’s a penalty. So you’re gonna have multiple line items on your record, you’ll have the aggressive driving conviction, then you’ll have TSS assignment which is traffic survival school.

It’s an eight-hour course. You have to go and do it in person, then you’ll see it’s completed. And you’ll have all these different line items. Your insurance company is not gonna be happy about that at all. You’ll also have a criminal conviction, and so that’s not something that you want.

The way we defend these, of course, is to break up these elements. The government has to prove each one of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt.

So if they can’t prove either any of these things happened, or only one of them happened, or if they can prove that these two things happened, but they really didn’t get a good measurement on your speed, they’re not meeting their job, they’re not meeting their burden of production, they’re not meeting the evidence. And so there are a number of different ways that we can challenge aggressive driving.

We do it very regularly where the government simply cannot meet their burden because all of these are sort of civil violations. Officers are used to writing civil speeding tickets or a civil failure to obey a traffic control device or a civil unsafe lane changes, or a civil following too closely, but when this is all a criminal charge, each one of those elements gets elevated, and now you have to be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt as to every part of this offense, otherwise it won’t stick.

So if they can’t justify the speed, if an officer was eyeballing the speed, or if they can’t get records admitted into court to show that the officer’s equipment was properly calibrated and the officer knows how to do it and he’s certified to use that device, those are all major problems with aggressive driving.

But this is the conduct so sometimes people will come to us and they’ll say, “I don’t understand what aggressive driving is. “I have this here, it says it’s criminal but why?” The officer is saying that you were speeding or criminally speeding, and you committed two of these other violations. And because they’re all kind of stacked in together, they lump it in, they call it aggressive driving.

I know a lot of people who drive like this all the time but haven’t been charged with it, so if they’re watching this video, a little word of caution to you out there. I probably have been guilty of it myself, I’ll be honest.

But this is something that is a little bit surprising to people. How can I be charged with a crime for driving quickly? If you have a nice car, you like to go fast, you commit two kind of minor civil violations, boom, now you’re charged with an aggressive driving violation. Class 1 misdemeanor, eight points, we defend against these all over Arizona.

It’s not one of the most common offenses that’s criminal traffic, a lot of the times these are reckless driving charges or just the simple criminal speeding charges, but every now and then you’ll see an officer who really really wants to escalate the charges, and they’ll make it aggressive driving.

So if you have any questions about what happened in your case specifically, these are very fact intensive cases, we want to break down each different element and see exactly what happened, what’s in the police report, what they have on dashcam or bodycam, we want to see exactly what happened from your perspective as well, give our office a call, we’ll piece it all together, we’ll make sure we have a good defense that’s built out for you. And we offer free case evaluations.

We’re happy to sit down with you. So give us a call.

Thanks for watching, take care.

This video is describing in detail to the viewer what components are taken into consideration when an individual has been charged with Aggressive Driving. Aggressive Driving for a first-time offender is going to be classified as a Class One Misdemeanor Offense will carry a total of eight points on the conviction that will be assessed to an individual’s driver’s license.

When a person is charged with aggressive driving, the offense does not only constitute of a speeding violation or failure to control speed to avoid a collision but also declares that the person being accused is in violation of at least two additional traffic violations specified under A.R.S. 28-695 (A). The following civil traffic violations are described under the Aggressive Driving Statute: First, failure to obey a traffic control device, this means that anyone conducting a vehicle who fails to obey any traffic signal. For example, if while driving a vehicle, a person fails to obey any device or signal in the area where there are any traffic lights, under construction signs or any other signals that are used to direct traffic. Second, when a driver is conducting a vehicle and is unsafely changing lanes, paying little to no regard for the people or property around them. This can be grounds for an officer to serve a citation to the person operating the vehicle. Third, overtaking or passing traffic on the right can be grounds for an officer to cite the driver with aggressive driving. Fourth, “tailgating” or following another vehicle too closely, is also an offense that can add to the severity of a citation. When an officer deems a driver is following a vehicle too closely, this can be enough grounds for an individual to be cited with a traffic violation. Fifth, failure to yield the right of away is the last driving behavior that is considered when determining if a person will be charged with aggressive driving. 

A separate component for aggressive driving is that the driver’s behavior creates an immediate hazard to other people or drivers on the road.

In summary, to be charged with aggressive driving a person must be speeding plus commit at least two of the specified driving violations with the additional requirement that the conduct creates an immediate hazard to other people.  

In conclusion, this video has explained to the audience about the consequences of being charged with aggressive driving. As mentioned before, this offense will be classified as a class one misdemeanor for a first-time offense, and on conviction, eight points will be added to a person’s driver’s license.  It is also possible for a judge to suspend the person’s driver’s license for up to 30 days. On a second time conviction that occurs within 2 years, the judge will revoke a person’s driver’s license for one year. A consequence for any person convicted of aggressive driving is they must take traffic survival school. 

All aspects of the driving violations must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.  As explained in the video this is the same type of penalty a defendant would be facing if he or she were convicted of a DUI. If an officer is unable to prove speeding or any of the civil traffic violations beyond a reasonable doubt, then the government cannot make the criminal charge stick if challenged in court.   

Should the officer conducting the investigation issue a person an aggressive driving citation, the individual should begin to research the possible consequences, as well as, know their avenues for defense and their rights. By hiring an experienced attorney, a person can find comfort in knowing that their charge will be dealt with the best possible way in order to obtain a satisfactory outcome.