The average American travels around about 40 miles per day, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Most of these trips are taken in personal vehicles, with individuals spending around 55 minutes a day behind the wheel of their motor vehicle. For many, driving can be stressful and frustrating. This is particularly true if the driver is in a hurry, has a lengthy commute, is running late for a meeting or an appointment, or is dealing with heavy traffic. A 2016 study found that many drivers have engaged in aggressive behaviors while on the road such as tailgating, yelling, honking, and making angry gestures.
It is important to remember that driving recklessly or aggressively can lead to criminal charges in the state of Georgia. If an individual is convicted of this offense he or she can face consequences including license suspension, fines, and jail time. If you or a loved one has been charged with reckless or aggressive driving, please do not hesitate to contact Alpharetta DUI Lawyer Richard Lawson today.
What Is The Difference Between Reckless Driving And Aggressive Driving?
In Georgia, reckless driving is when an individual "drives any vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property." O.C.G.A § 40-6-390 (2015). Aggressive driving occurs when an individual "operates any motor vehicle with the intent to annoy, harass, molest, intimidate, injure, or obstruct another person, including without limitation violating Code Section 40-6-42, 40-6-48, 40-6-49, 40-6-123, 40-6-184, 40-6-312, or 40-6-390 with such intent." O.C.G.A. § 40-6-397 (2015).
Though these offenses may seem similar, they are treated differently under the law. Aggressive driving is a more serious offense than reckless driving and carries a more severe penalty. The aggressive driving statute was enacted to address cases of road rage. State v. Burrell, 263 Ga. App. 207, 207 (Ga. Ct. App. 2003). Aggressive driving is a "specific intent crime with a targeted victim." Id. This means that for a person to be convicted of this crime, he or she must be targeting a particular individual in another vehicle, such as the driver. By contrast, reckless driving is an offense that doesn't require there to be a specific victim targeted. Reckless driving "is the act of driving in such a manner [so] as to demonstrate a "reckless disregard" for all people or property — generally — whether or not any specific person or property is, in fact, endangered at the time of the indicted act." Id. at 208.
Reckless driving is considered to be a misdemeanor offense in Georgia. O.C.G.A § 40-6-390 (2015). The penalty for this offense may include a fine up to $1,000 and/or up to 12 months in jail. It is important to note that judges have the discretion under the law to stay or suspend a sentence. Additionally, judges can also put a defendant on probation in lieu of a prison sentence.
Aggressive driving is a more serious offense than reckless driving. Though it is still a misdemeanor offense, it is considered a high and aggravated misdemeanor. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-397 (2015). The punishment for a high and aggravated misdemeanor may include a fine of up to $5,000 and/or a maximum jail sentence of 12 months. O.C.G.A. § 17-10-4(a) (2015).
If a person is sentenced to jail, he or she may face additional consequences as a result of the high and aggravated nature of his or her crime. The law in Georgia states a person convicted of this type of crime "may earn no more than four days per month earned time allowance." O.C.G.A. § 17-10-4(b) (2015). This means that if a person has been given a thirty-day sentence, he or she must serve at least 26 days of that sentence. He or she cannot take advantage of some of the other earned time credits that are available to those with other types of convictions. However, an individual's sentence can be reduced by the amount of time that he or she served after being arrested.
In addition to the criminal consequences of a reckless driving or aggressive driving conviction, an individual may have his or her license suspended. A license suspension for these types of offenses operates differently than a license suspension for DUI offenses. In order for a person's license to be suspended for reckless or aggressive driving, he or she must accumulate a certain number of points on his or her license during a specified period of time. In Georgia, if a driver earns 15 points on his or her license in a 24-month period, that driver's license will be suspended.
- Reckless Driving: 4 points
- Aggressive Driving: 6 points
If a driver has his or her license suspended for accumulating too many points, that driver can typically get a temporary license for the first two points suspensions. However, if a driver's license is suspended for a third time for accumulating too many points within a five-year period, the driver will not be able to get his or her license back for two years. In addition, the driver cannot get a temporary permit, will not be able to get the license reinstated early, will have to pay fines, and will have to complete a defensive driving course.
For drivers under the age of 21, the rules are different. In that case, if the driver earns four or more points on his or her license, the license will be suspended for six months. A second conviction for reckless or aggressive driving could result in a 12-month license suspension. Furthermore, drivers who are under the age of 21 cannot obtain a temporary license.
Reducing A DUI To Reckless Driving
One thing to be aware of is that if an individual has been charged with driving under the influence in Georgia, his or her defense attorney can work to have that DUI charge reduced down to a reckless driving charge. By doing this, the individual can generally avoid a license suspension and avoid having a DUI offense on his or her record. Whether or not this strategy will work in a particular person's case will depend on the facts and circumstances of the case.
Contact A Roswell Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI or another serious driving offense, you want a skilled and knowledgeable attorney like Richard Lawson on your side. Roswell DUI Attorney Richard Lawson has over twenty years of experience defending those accused of DUI offenses in the state of Georgia. Contact his office today at (404) 816-4440 or contact him online.