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What is the difference between aggressive driving and road rage?

By now, almost everyone in Virginia and elsewhere knows about road rage. With so many drivers sharing the roads and being stressed out or in a hurry, it can be easy to lose control in traffic. However, you should understand that there is a difference between driving aggressively and a true act of road rage, especially if you are facing road rage charges.

The American Safety Council explains that aggressive driving involves numerous traffic behaviors that can range from being irritating to creating a dangerous situation. Aggressive driving can include the following:

  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Cutting other drivers off
  • Swerving in and out of lanes
  • Running stop signs or red lights
  • Ignoring traffic rules

Aggressive driving is considered a traffic offense. On the other hand, law enforcement considers road rage a criminal offense, since those participating in road rage intend to harm someone else. They may deliberately ram another driver’s vehicle with their own, attack someone with a weapon, chase someone through traffic or try to run the other driver off the road. True “road ragers” often react violently to the slightest provocation. Despite the differences in driving behaviors, it is possible a law enforcement officer may confuse the two and accuse you of road rage when you did not mean anyone harm.

Whether you receive a traffic violation or a more serious charge, you have the right to tell your side of the story. Since this topic can be complex, the information in this blog is not meant to replace the advice of a lawyer.