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Aggressive Driving in Georgia

Aggressive Driving is the legal term for road rage. The statute governing Aggressive Driving is O.C.G.A. § 40-6-397. It states that a person commits the offense of Aggressive Driving when he or she “operates any motor vehicle with the intent to annoy, harass, molest, intimidate, injure, or obstruct another person.” Just like there is no single definition for “road rage,” there is no single definition of Aggressive Driving. It can encompass a wide variety of behaviors, including (but not limited to):

  • Tailgating (also called Following Too Closely),
  • Overtaking/passing another driver,
  • Brake checking,
  • Driving slowly to impede the flow of traffic, and
  • In general, driving recklessly.

Although the law lists out some actions that can be considered Aggressive Driving, the law specifically says that the list is not exhaustive. Any action taken while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle, if done with the intent to harass another driver, can constitute Aggressive Driving.

What are some examples of Aggressive Driving in Georgia?

As discussed above, there are many behaviors that can be classified as Aggressive Driving in Georgia. The statute was intentionally written to ensure that there is flexibility built into the law. That said, there are a few examples of courts analyzing whether particular behaviors fall under the law.

On one case, In the Interest of A.M.A. (a juvenile case), the Georgia Court of Appeals examined the Defendant's behavior and found it sufficient for a conviction. In that case, the defendant "braked suddenly, causing the car behind it to brake also, which caused the third car in a line to collide with the second car in line." Furthermore, there was evidence to suggest that the defendant knew that the second car was following him, and that the defendant's passengers had been harassing and making obscene gestures toward the driver of the second car. In the Interest of A.M.A., 266 Ga.App. 273, 593 S.E.2d 756 (2004).

In another case, Simmons v. State, the defendant driver struck another vehicle four times in rapid succession, then fled the scene. The court similarly found that to be Aggressive Driving. Simmons v. State, 321 Ga.App. 743, 743 S.E.2d 434 (2013).

Aggressive Driving vs. Reckless Driving

At first glance, it may appear that Aggressive Driving and Reckless Driving (O.C.G.A. 40-6-390) are very similar.

Despite that, Georgia courts have found that a person can be charged and convicted of both offenses based on the same incident. This is because Aggressive Driving requires proof of a defendant's specific intent to annoy, harass, intimidate, or injure another person. Reckless Driving does not require proof of this intent.

Instead, Reckless Driving requires proof that the defendant endangered the bodily safety of another. Thus, according to the Georgia Court of Appeals, the elements of the crime -- the things that the prosecutor must prove in order to get a conviction -- are different for the two charges. See Winn v. State, 291 Ga.App. 16, 660 S.E.2d 883 (2008).

What are the consequences of an Aggressive Driving conviction in Georgia?

Aggressive Driving is classified as something called a High and Aggravated Misdemeanor. That means that it is still technically a misdemeanor and not a felony. But the penalties for a conviction are higher than they would be for a normal misdemeanor. For Aggressive Driving, the maximum penalty is a fine of $5,000 (plus court costs and fees) and 12 months in jail. These penalties are quite severe and can seriously affect a person's liberty and financial stability.

What will a Georgia Aggressive Driving conviction do to your driver’s license?

A conviction for Aggressive Driving will be reported to the Georgia Department of Driver Services, and six points will be assessed. Click here to read more about the points system in Georgia. Essentially, drivers over 21 who accrue 15 or more points in a 24-month period of time will have their licenses suspended. Aggressive Driving, as a six point offense, can push you over the edge if your driving history is less than perfect. A license suspension can affect your ability to get to work, drive your kids to school, etc.

Why do you need a Georgia Traffic Defense Attorney if you are facing an Aggressive Driving charge?

The consequences for an Aggressive Driving conviction are severe. They can affect your liberty, your livelihood, and your pocketbook. Some criminal defense attorneys don't take traffic cases seriously, but I understand that your case is important to you. That's why it is important to me too. I pride myself on being available to my clients, answering all of their questions, and making sure I get the best possible outcome for them. Call me today.

Georgia Aggressive Driving Infographic

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