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Can you be charged with a crime for losing your cool in traffic?

| Apr 18, 2018 | blog

Dealing with other drivers can be frustrating. During your morning and afternoon commute, you might encounter drivers who are rude, aggressive or simply not paying attention. When you are stuck in congested traffic and have stressful things on your mind, it can be easy to lose control. However, it is important for you and other Virginia drivers to understand the potential legal consequences of losing your patience behind the wheel.

Someone has been tailgating you for the last few blocks, then suddenly he swerves around you and cuts you off. Maybe you respond by laying on the horn, giving him a gesture or speeding up to tailgate him. Actions like this qualify as aggressive driving, which may result in accidents but would likely come with a traffic offense charge if law enforcement pulled you over. However, if you attempt to get revenge on the rude driver by causing physical harm, this is a criminal offense, according to the American Safety Council. Why is this so? If your actions result in another person deliberately being hurt, it is a form of assault, regardless of whether you were acting in the heat of the moment without taking a moment to think about the consequences.

If you engage in the following road rage behaviors, someone could get hurt and you could face criminal charges:

  • Using your vehicle to ram the other person’s vehicle and causing an accident or running him or her off the road
  • Using a firearm, a knife or a tool in your car to harm the other person
  • Chasing the other driver at high speeds or following him or her home
  • Cornering the other person with the intent of getting him or her out of the vehicle for a physical altercation

Road rage has been responsible for 218 murders and 12,610 injuries over a seven-year period. If you frequently find yourself losing patience in traffic, it can help to consider that acting on your anger might result in serious criminal consequences.