Is Aggressive Driving in Pennsylvania a Criminal Offense?

Is Aggressive Driving in Pennsylvania a Criminal Offense? Do you think following the car in front of you too closely isn’t such a big deal? They’re going too slow and holding up traffic. If you get close enough, they’ll go faster.  Right? Wrong! Aggressive driving is a summary offense or a misdemeanor in Pennsylvania. And, traffic violations become misdemeanors when bodily injury or property damage is involved.
Remember, this is not Fast & Furious 7, there are no stunt doubles or retakes! The Pennsylvania Aggressive Driving Enforcement and Education Program (PAADEEP) is one of the umbrella projects. PAADEEP conducts three waves of highway crackdowns yearly (since 2006). Typically, these waves occur in November/December, March and July. “HEAT on 30”, or Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic,  operated from March through mid-August 2013, and focused on aggressive driving behaviors – such as speeding, tailgating and running red lights and seat belt enforcement. Coordinated Statewide efforts by the Pennsylvania State Police & PennDOT are targeting aggressive driving in Pennsylvania.
This crackdown on aggressive driving in Pennsylvania is inclusive of street racing, specifically on major roadways such as Roosevelt Boulevard in Philadelphia, where recently a car crash involving alleged street racing killed 28-year-old Samara Selena Banks and her four sons who were crossing Roosevelt Boulevard when they were struck by a vehicle.
According to PennDOT: statistics indicate that in 2012, there were 6,761 aggressive driving crashes and 262 fatalities. According to the Center for Disease Control in 2005 car accidents in Pennsylvania cost over $1.52 billion in total crash-related DEATH costs – ($17 million in medical costs– $1.51 billion in lost work costs.)  The big picture is PennDot’s $2.5 million investment of federal funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which helps fund aggressive driving enforcement and education projects throughout the State. PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Traffic Safety Network (PTSN) [i] are working with law enforcement personnel to crackdown on aggressive driving along over 350 targeted highways.
Crashes and fatalities caused by aggressive drivers have increased in recent years:

Type of Crash in Pennsylvania 2012 2011 2010
Aggressive Driving Crashes 6761 6330
Aggressive Driving Fatalities 191 168
 
Crashes involving speeding 4353 4035 4010
Fatalities involving speeding 262 267 284

Source: PennDot statistics

In Pennsylvania Criminal Charges can result if you cause an Accident

Car accidents have both criminal and civil implications. In Pennsylvania, the Department of Transportation uses a point system to track moving driving violations, which carry fines and points. You may be required to take a written exam or a special on the road driving test. You can lose your license with too many offenses. Useful information can be found on the following link regarding the PA Point System Fact Sheet.
Most traffic violations are summary offenses. If someone is injured or property damaged, you can be charged with a misdemeanor, a more serious charge than a summary offense. In rare instances, aggressive driving results in a felony charge, such as aggravated assault by vehicle (a 3rd degree felony), which can cost up to $10,000 in fines and jail time of up to 2 years.
When somebody dies as a result of the accident, it is even possible to be charged with homicide by vehicle or murder. More severe charges usually require extreme and intentional negligence by the aggressive driver, or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and directly causing serious injury or death. Homicide by vehicle in PA can result in up to 10 years in jail and up to $25,000 in fines.

Charged with an Aggressive Driving Violation in Pennsylvania?

Understand, that in Pennsylvania, if you are convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, the verdict can haunt you for the rest of your life. Anytime someone runs a background check, these convictions may surface again. The Lawyers at KaplunMarx can help, we have experience in handling criminal defense matters including traffic related offenses such as DUI, and aggressive driving violations in Pennsylvania. If you are charged with a traffic violation, a DUI, or reckless driving  contact our office to get legal advice immediately, there are options and we can certainly help you resolve your case. We care about our clients, and will tell it to you straight. You will know what to expect from the outset and be kept informed every step of the way. Our philosophy is to aggressively advocate on our clients behalf, each and every case.
More Information
Pennsylvania Traffic Safety Network – //www.patrafficsafety.org/PATSN/
More information about Aggressive Driving is available under the Aggressive Driving, and Seat Belt information centers at www.JustDrivePA.com.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – //www.nhtsa.gov
Center for Disease Control Traffic Statistics – //www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/
Center for Disease Control Pennsylvania Traffic Statistics – //www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/

[1] PATSN (Pennsylvania Traffic Safety Network)
The Pennsylvania Traffic Safety Network is a combination of 3 Community Traffic Safety Projects (CTSPs) consolidated into one grant project. PATSN includes 26 of Pennsylvanias’ 67 Counties with a population base of 2,913,904 – or 23.4% – of the state’s population. The PATSN staff provides traffic safety coordination for this area with for 6 CTSP Coordinators who collaborate with PennDOT’s DUI Enforcement Projects, the PA Aggressive Driving Enforcement Education Project (PAADEEP), PA Traffic Injury Prevention Project (TIPP), and Buckle Up PA police agencies. PATSN is comprised of the North Central Highway Safety Network in Pottsville, the Central PA Highway Safety Network in Erie and the Southwest Regional Traffic Safety Network in Bridgeville.