Although there is no direct road rage charge in New Jersey, there are other chargeable crimes that may arise from a road rage incident. There is also a state statute that increases penalties for aggressive drivers whose road rage causes injuries to others. Therefore, although one may not be criminally charged for road rage, one may be charged with other crimes stemming from a road rage incident. A driver may also face jail time and fines if someone was injured as a result.
What is Considered Road Rage?
Road rage is a term used to describe various angry and violent behaviors associated with aggressive or reckless driving, such as gesturing or yelling at another motorist, a confrontation, and or even physical assault. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)defines aggressive driving as operating a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property.
Aggressive driving is charged as a traffic violation and can include dangerous driving behaviors, such as following too closely, speeding, and weaving in and out of traffic. However, when such behaviors cause someone to be injured, it is deemed as a criminal offense.
What Criminal Charges are Related to Road Rage?
Aggressive drivers may face legal consequences for injuries caused by road rage. Some common criminal charges related to road rage include:
Reckless Driving: Drivers who put others at risk of injury by driving in willful or wanton disregard for the rights or safety of others may be charged with reckless driving. Under the New Jersey statute, this crime is punishable by up to 60 days imprisonment and fines of up to $200 for a first offense.
Simple Assault: Someone is guilty of simple assault if they either attempt to cause or purposely cause bodily injury to someone else, negligently causes bodily injury to someone else with a deadly weapon, or attempt to put someone in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. This is a disorderly persons offense punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Aggravated Assault: Depending on several factors, including whether the defendant used a deadly weapon or acted with extreme indifference to the value of a human life, an assault may be charged as aggravated assault. The criminal penalties imposed for this crime is dependent upon the circumstances of the case, but charges can result in a prison term of up to 10 years and fines of up to $150,000.
New Jersey Statute Imposes Harsher Penalties for Road Rage
In New Jersey, criminal penalties are enhanced when injuries result from road rage incidents. Jessica’s Law stiffens the penalties for aggressive driving when injuries are involved. The law was inspired by a teenager who was left paralyzed after being a passenger in a road rage incident; the aggressive driver only served four months in jail.
Under Jessica’s Law, if road rage leads to serious injuries, the driver may be charged with a third degree offense. Third degree offenses in New Jersey carry a potential prison sentence of three to five years, a fine of up to $15,000, or both.
If a road rage incident causes less severe injuries, the driver may face up to 18 months in prison, a maximum fine of $10,000, or both. A defendant who is criminally charged for injuries in association with a road rage incident may be able to claim self-defense with the help from a skilled lawyer.
South Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyers at Agre & St. John Advocate for Drivers Facing Road Rage Charges
If you have been charged with a crime because of a road rage incident, contact one of our South Jersey criminal defense lawyers at Agre & St. John. Our experienced and dedicated attorneys provide guidance to clients charged with serious crimes. Call us at 856-428-7797 or contact us online for an initial consultation. Located in Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, and Salem County.