Road rage can take many forms. An angry or frustrated motorist might express their emotions against another driver or non-motorists by tailgating, yelling at others, repeatedly hooking their horn, or making angry gestures. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reported that almost 80% of drivers displayed some type of aggressive driving behaviors at least once in the previous year.
Road rage incidents can lead to harm to people and property, and extreme cases can lead to the death of another. Ohio does not have a specific law prohibiting road rage. However, that does not mean a person who engages in such conduct cannot be criminally charged. The underlying actions an aggressive motorist carries out can be considered offenses.
Road Rage-Related Crimes and Punishments
When a driver is involved in a road rage incident, they may engage in violent or destructive – and unlawful – behaviors.
The type of charge levied against a road rager depends on the circumstances. Some examples include:
- Disorderly conduct: In a road rage incident, the angered driver might cause an alarm or annoyance, they might threaten to harm other people or property, or they might engage in fighting. All of these behaviors are punishable under Ohio's disorderly conduct law. The offenses a minor misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $150.
- Menacing: If a road rager makes another person believe they'll cause harm to that individual or their property, they may be charged with menacing, which is a fourth-degree misdemeanor. A conviction carries with it a maximum 30-day jail term and/or a fine of up to $250.
- Assault: Some road rage incidents go beyond causing damage to property and result in injury or attempted injury to another person. Under O.R.C. 2903.13, a person can be charged with assault if they cause or attempt to cause physical harm to another person. Thus, if a motorist confronts the person they are upset with by pulling back their fist and either hit or attempt to hit that individual, they may be accused of assault. This is a first-degree misdemeanor offense that's punishable by up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
- Felonious assault: A person may be charged with felonious assault if they cause serious physical harm to someone else or if they use a dangerous weapon to cause or attempt to cause harm. Therefore, if a road rager strikes another individual or, using a gun or a knife, injures the person, they could be facing a second-degree felony charge. A conviction may result in a prison sentence that is 50% longer than the minimum term for the offense and/or a fine of up to $15,000.
- Murder: Unfortunately, some angry drivers may be so fueled by negative emotions that they have trouble thinking clearly and behave in ways that are significantly out of character. In their attempt to right a perceived wrong, they might cause someone else's death and subsequently be charged with murder. If they're found guilty, they could be sentenced to up to life in prison.
If you've been charged with a crime in Cleveland, contact Patituce & Associates at (440) 471-7784. We'll fight hard for you.