Local News

Some Say New Aggressive Driving Law Tough To Enforce

Posted December 8, 2004

— Aggressive drivers cause frayed nerves, crashes and even death. Some commuters call them the most dangerous threat on the roads.

The state General Assembly heard the complaints and did something about it. The state's new aggressive driving law is just a week old, but already some say it is too tough to enforce.

The state Highway Patrol goes after aggressive drivers, aggressively on the ground and in the sky. To back up its efforts, a new law took effect Dec. 1.

Aggressive driving is now speeding with at least two of the following violations: running a red light, running a stop sign, illegal passing, failing to yield or tailgating.

"It's a very serious charge with a lot of strict, severe penalties. So we need to raise the bar to make sure that people meet all the elements of the new law. As it is, it makes it more difficult to charge someone, but that's not necessarily a bad thing," said 1st Sgt. Everett Clendenin of the state Highway Patrol.

"There are plenty of people who just drive like maniacs on the streets and there needs to be something to address that. I'm just not sure that this law is going to be the thing to ultimately address it," attorney Bob Hensley said.

Hensley, a former legislator, says 80 percent of his cases are in traffic court.

"Joe started out with a red meat law and he ended up with an oatmeal law," Hensley said, referring to the bill's sponsor, Rep. Joe Hackney.

Hackney said his bill was amended, but he wanted something done about aggressive driving. Hensley said it was a good try but, "It has multiple problems, multiple facets to it and each one of those is going to have to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt in front of a judge or jury. And that's hard to do."

If the aggressive driving charge sticks, drivers will get five points on their license. That is the same as passing a stopped school bus.

Troopers said after just one week, they are not aware of anyone being charged under the new law.

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