Both reckless driving and aggressive driving are dangerous and can have serious consequences in Indiana. However, while often used synonymously, aggressive driving and reckless driving are not the same.
If you are involved in a car accident in Indiana, an attorney can help you determine whether it was a reckless or aggressive driving offense and how best to handle your claim to ensure the best possible outcome.
At Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery, our Indianapolis car accident lawyers have experience handling these kinds of cases and are dedicated to helping our clients get the fair settlement they deserve.
Indiana reckless driving can refer to any number of driving acts or behaviors that can result in an accident and cause harm to yourself or others. However, people who are driving recklessly are not necessarily doing so with the intent to cause harm.
For example, someone who is late to work or having an emergency might speed, and speeding is considered reckless. But they are not necessarily being aggressive just because they are speeding.
According to Indiana Vehicle Code 9-21-8-52, a person is considered to be driving recklessly when they:
- Drive at an unreasonably high rate of speed or an unreasonably low rate of speed in a way that endangers themselves or the safety or property of others
- Block the flow of traffic
- Pass another vehicle from behind while on a slope or a curve with an obstructed view of less than 500 feet ahead
- Speed up or refuse to give ½ of the roadway to another driver trying to pass
- Pass a school bus that is stopped when the stop signal device is extended
In contrast, aggressive driving is more associated with behaviors seen when someone is exhibiting aggression or road rage. In some cases, these driving behaviors or acts are committed with the intent to purposely aggravate, annoy, or even harm another driver.
According to Indiana Vehicle Code 9-21-8-55, aggressive driving includes the following:
- Following too closely behind another vehicle—also known as tailgating
- Attempting to overtake or pass another vehicle by driving off the roadway to go around them
- Unsafe stopping or slowing—sometimes referred to as brake checking
- Unnecessary sounding of the car horn
- Failing to yield to another vehicle that has the right of way
- Disobeying traffic control devices
- Driving at an unsafe speed
- Repeatedly flashing the vehicle’s headlights
You can receive a reckless driving charge or an aggressive driving charge in Indiana, but the specific penalty will depend on what exactly happened.
For reckless driving:
A general act of reckless driving is considered a Class C misdemeanor. If the reckless act causes property damage, it is a Class B misdemeanor, and the court may recommend a license suspension. If the act causes bodily injury to another person, it is a Class A misdemeanor, and the court may suspend driving privileges.
If the reckless act involved the passing of a school bus with its stop arm device extended, it is considered a Class A misdemeanor. If passing the bus results in bodily injury, it’s a Level 6 felony. If death is caused, it’s a Level 5 felony.
For aggressive driving:
If the driver operated their vehicle aggressively with the intent to harass or intimidate another driver or knowingly engages in aggressive driving, it is considered a Class A misdemeanor.
The specific punishments for misdemeanors in Indiana are as follows:
- Class C misdemeanor: Up to 60 days in jail and up to a $500 fine.
- Class B misdemeanor: Up to 180 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.
- Class A misdemeanor: Up to one year in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.
If you are involved in either a reckless or aggressive driving accident, you will need to provide sufficient evidence to show what happened and prove that another driver was at fault. It is not uncommon for insurance companies to deny claims or offer reduced settlements when insufficient evidence is provided to prove that their client was the one responsible for what happened.
For this reason, you will likely need to consult with a personal injury attorney. An attorney can help you obtain the evidence you need to make sure the other party is held liable for what happened. Such evidence that can help support your claim includes:
- Police reports
- Accident reconstruction reports
- Video surveillance footage from the accident
- Photos of the accident
- Medical reports or documentation proving you were injured
- Eyewitness statements
At Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery, we have years of experience handling car accident claims, including those involving aggressive or reckless driving. We know what it takes to ensure the right party is held accountable for their negligent actions and will fight hard to protect your rights, help you navigate your claim, and ensure you are awarded the full and fair settlement you deserve.