Recent news reports of a death from a possible road rage incident in Las Vegas put a renewed focus on Nevada criminal offenses arising from driving conduct. Aggressive driving and reckless driving charges can result from a road rage event even if no one is injured. If someone does receive injuries or dies, the charges can be significantly more serious.
The criminal offenses of aggressive driving and reckless driving both involve complex legal, factual, and evidentiary issues. If you face either charge, your best strategy is to retain an experienced Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer to represent you. At The Gersten Law Firm, your initial consultation and case evaluation are always free of charge and without obligation.
A specific Nevada statute, NRS 484B.650, governs the offense of aggressive driving in the state. The section details the types of conduct that constitute aggressive driving under the law.
The law provides that a driver commits aggressive driving if the driver commits all of the following in any sequence during a single, continuous period of driving over a one-mile length:
To be charged with the offense of aggressive driving, a driver does not need to be charged individually with any of the acts specified in items (1) and (2).
The penalty provisions of the law are as complex as the conduct that constitutes the offense. All offenses are punishable by a fine or six-month jail sentence, or both. The level of the fine depends on whether the defendant has prior aggressive driving convictions. Additional penalties apply for subsequent offenses within two (2) years. Double penalties may apply to violations in a work zone. Traffic school and suspension or revocation of a driver’s license are also possible penalties in some situations.
A different statutory section, NRS 484B.653, governs the offense of reckless driving in Nevada. The law specifies five types of conduct that constitute unlawful reckless driving:
The statute also makes it unlawful to organize an “unauthorized speed contest” on a highway or other property with public access or facilitate an “unauthorized trick driving display on a public highway.”
Violations of the reckless driving statute may be a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor, depending on the nature of the violation and prior convictions. Reckless driving may be charged as a category B felony if the conduct causes death or substantial bodily harm.
Penalties vary depending on the type of conduct that led to the charge, as well as on whether there are prior convictions. Generally, a conviction is punishable by a fine or both a fine and a six-month jail term. Depending on the circumstances, penalties may also include community service, vehicle impoundment, and suspension or revocation of a driver’s license. To some extent, a judge has discretion in imposing reckless driving penalties.
As the summaries for the offenses of aggressive driving and reckless driving make clear, both of these charges involve complicated circumstances and potentially severe penalties. While particular conduct may constitute a violation of both statutory sections, reckless driving is the more commonly charged offense. One reason is that the prosecutor needs to demonstrate fewer elements to prove reckless driving than for an aggressive driving charge.
Regardless of which charge you face, representation by legal counsel is absolutely essential. Asserting a defense requires attacking the required elements of the crime, to demonstrate to the prosecutor that the offense cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. That requires the skill and knowledge of an experienced criminal defense attorney. In some cases, your lawyer may be able to negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecutor that allows a plea to a lesser offense with less severe penalties.
Representation during the penalty phase is also critical. The judge has discretion in sentencing for both aggressive driving and reckless driving. Your legal counsel can make a significant difference in the penalty part of your case, just as in the substantive phase. You should never decide simply to plead guilty to either charge without consulting with a qualified attorney.
Las Vegas criminal defense attorney Joseph Gersten represents local residents and visitors, including those from outside Nevada, on aggressive driving, reckless driving, and other serious traffic violations, such as DUI and DUID. He handles matters in Las Vegas and throughout Clark County, including Henderson, North Las Vegas, Boulder City, Mesquite, Searchlight, Moapa Valley, and Goodsprings, as well as in some rural Nevada counties.
If your driving incident results in other criminal charges, such as assault, battery, or vehicular homicide, The Gersten Law Firm is here to help with those matters too. Regardless of what criminal charges you face, we welcome you contact us to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation.