What is required for an aggressive driving ticket?
In order to cite a driver for aggressive driving, an officer must allege a whole potpourri of violations. As set forth in A.R.S. 28-695, an officer must claim to have observed:
1. criminal speeding or civil speeding, and at least two other moving violations, chosen from the following:
- Failure to obey traffic control devices as provided in section 28-644.
- Overtaking and passing another vehicle on the right by driving off the pavement or main traveled portion of the roadway as provided in section 28-724.
- Unsafe lane change as provided in section 28-729.
- Following a vehicle too closely as provided in section 28-730.
- Failure to yield the right-of-way as provided in article 9 of this chapter.
- The person’s driving is an immediate hazard to another person or vehicle.
What are some situations where we see tickets issued for reckless driving?
Aggressive driving requires at least 3 different moving violations. As a result, such a ticket usually involves an officer following a driver for a little bit an observing a series of driving manuevers. The officer must also believes that the driving he observes poses an immediate hazard to other people or property. Opinions vary on what exactly constitutes an immediate hazard to another person or property.
However, what we usually see is an officer alleges a driver was speeding, tailgating (following too closely is the technical name), and making unsafe lane changes. The officer believes that the combination of those three moving violations poses an immediate hazard to the other drivers on the road.
What Are The Penalties For An Aggressive Driving Conviction?
These are the consequences that are possible under the law:
- A class 1 misdemeanor conviction
- Fines up to $2,500 plus surcharges and court assessments that could nearly double the total fine
- Up to 6 months in jail.
- Up to 3 years probation
- The judge may suspend your driving privileges for up to 30 days. See A.R.S. 28-693(C).
For the majority of people, if they are found guilty the consequences include:
- Class 1 misdemeanor conviction.
- Fines less than the maximum
- Jail time is rare, but it does happen. We most often see jail in city courts like Scottsdale City Court.
- Probation is rare.
- We don’t usually see license suspension from the court (there may be a points suspension)
There can also be some collateral consequences:
- 8 points on your driving record.
- Increased insurance rates
- Traffic Survival School
- Immigration issues
- License suspension depending on the driver’s history and accumulation of points
- Having to disclose a criminal conviction on job applications
A second aggressive driving conviction carries more serious consequences.
If a driver is convicted of aggressive driving a second time within 24 months, the driver’s license will be revoked for 1 year.
Need Help With An Aggressive Driving Ticket?
Our attorneys have years of experience with hundreds of criminal traffic cases. If you have questions, give our office a call for a free consultation.Give us a call and let’s talk. We’re full of information, and we don’t charge you to discuss your case. We want every driver to get the best outcome possible in their case. Often, we can help achieve that outcome. Sometimes, a driver doesn’t need an attorney, and we’ll tell you that too.
How do you fight an aggressive driving ticket?
We take a two-pronged approach to every case.
We thoroughly investigate the facts and details for legal issues. We are looking for information that we can use to cast a reasonable doubt on the allegations. Aggressive driving has at least 4 elements that the State must prove before the defendant can be convicted. If the State fails to prove just one of those elements of aggressive driving, then the driver would not be convicted.
- Speed is always an element of the charge, so we want to know was the speed measurement defective?
- Did the officer lose visual contact of the vehicle?
- Do the allegations meet the statutory requirements? For example, was the defendant’s driving actually an immediate hazard to another person or vehicle?
- Is what the officer is claiming even possible?
We also present our clients and their background in the best possible light. Even when there is no legal argument, often our client’s good background and driving history can be enough to negotiate the desired outcome.
- Clean driving record
- History of community service
- School or employment history
- Other mitigating details
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
Is aggressive driving a jury eligible charge?
Yes, aggressive driving is a jury-eligible charge, so instead of a judge, you could choose to have a selection of people from the court’s jurisdiction decide whether or not you were driving aggressively.
How many points is aggressive driving?
If you are convicted of aggressive driving, the court where you are convicted will transmit a record of that conviction to the Arizona Department of Transportation, Motor Vehicles Division (MVD for short). When the MVD is notified of a conviction, they will assess 8 points on your driving record. Check out this post for more discussion about points.
8 points means that the MVD will send you a letter saying you have to complete an 8-hour Traffic Survival School (TSS) class to avoid a license suspension. If you have taken TSS in the previous 24 months, you will just get a 3-month suspension.
These MVD consequences are in addition to any consequences imposed by the court.
Even if you do not have an Arizona driver license, the Arizona MVD will still impose essentially the same penalties. The MVD will create a record for you, send you the same letter about traffic survival school, or issue a suspension of your driving privileges.
These MVD consequences will likely also impact an out of state driver license. Arizona, and most other states, participate in an interstate Driver License Compact. This is an agreement between states to share information about driver license records and suspensions.
How long will my case take?
Three to four months is usually a good estimate of time.
Will I have to appear in court?
If you hire an attorney, your attorney can often attend the pretrial conferences without you. Some courts require that a defendant attend pretrial conferences, but this is the exception rather than the rule. We represent many clients from out-of-state who never return to Arizona or attend court. You can discuss whether or not your presence is necessary with your attorney. If your case goes to trial, you will almost certainly need to attend the trial in person.
What if I don’t live in Arizona?
Most courts will let you appear by telephone for court appearances other than a trial. Some courts may require you to make this request in writing, others not. If you live out of state, call the court and ask them about their policies regarding telephonic appearances. If you have an attorney, your attorney can take care of this. If your case ends up going to trial, you will need to come back to Arizona for the trial. If your case is resolved without going to trial, you probably won’t need to physically return to Arizona.
Will an aggressive driving conviction affect my job?
This will of course depend on your job, but for the vast majority of people, the answer is probably not. We frequently represent clients who are required to undergo background checks as part of their job, or who hold security clearances, or who have professional licenses (like attorneys or doctors), and an aggressive driving conviction probably won’t derail your career. However, an aggressive driving conviction will likely require an explanation, and it is always ideal to avoid having to make that explanation.
For some people though, like commercial truck drivers, an aggressive driving conviction can be a big problem. Depending on the driver’s history, it could result in the driver’s CDL being disqualified for 60 days or more.
If you are concerned about how an aggressive driving conviction could impact your job, you may want to review your company’s policies regarding criminal traffic convictions and consult an attorney about your specific situation.
Will a criminal conviction affect my immigration status?
Maybe. We always advise our clients to consult with an immigration attorney to get a definitive answer to this question.
In another post, we discuss potential immigration consequences with immigration attorney Jessica Cadavid.
Can I go to jail for aggressive driving?
Yes. Aggressive driving is a class 1 misdemeanor. This means up to 6 months in jail is possible. However, in practice we rarely see jail time unless the driver has prior convictions.
Can I set aside an aggressive driving conviction?
In the event you are convicted of aggressive driving, you can apply to the court to have the conviction set aside. This application can be made anytime after all of the sentencing requirements have been completed. In most cases, this means after the fines have been paid.
If the court grants the request, and it is at the court’s discretion, then the conviction is set aside. This means that if someone were to conduct a criminal background check, this charge would still be reflected there, but the disposition or outcome would say “set aside and dismissed” rather than show that you had been convicted.
In other words, once the conviction is set aside, it means you have no longer been convicted of the charge.
It has been our experience that most courts are pretty generous with granting applications to set aside convictions.
Unfortunately, setting aside a conviction does not undo any MVD consequences or remove the violation from your driving record.
How Do Police Measure Speed?
This page discusses the various methods police use to measure speed – visual estimate, LIDAR, RADAR, and pace.
What Is An Arraignment?
The court date on an aggressive driving ticket is the arraignment date. This page discusses the purpose of the arraignment and what to expect.
Will A Criminal Conviction Affect Immigration?
This page discusses some of the potential consequences a misdemeanor conviction can have on one’s immigration status.