When Road Rage Becomes a Serious Crime

Although there are no laws that specifically govern aggressive driving in Minnesota, when road rage causes accidents, injuries, or death, angry drivers can be charged with various crimes including assault, vehicular homicide, or murder. People who are arrested for road rage incidents can face steep fines and jail time.

Road Rage has Serious Consequences

A recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that road rage occurs frequently on U.S. roads and highways. Between 2009 and 2016, more than 218 deaths and 12,600 injuries were caused by acts of road rage.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), one-third of car accidents are linked to aggressive driving behaviors. Although aggressive driving behaviors often spark road rage incidents, the law considers aggressive driving a misdemeanor traffic offense, while road rage behaviors are considered crimes punishable by steep fines, loss of license, loss of insurance, and possible jail time.

The most frequent acts of road rage according to law enforcement include:

  • Cutting off another driver
  • Tailgating or nudging another vehicle’s back bumper
  • Sudden intentional braking in front of another vehicle
  • Forcing another driver off the road
  • Honking the horn aggressively
  • Getting out of the vehicle to confront another driver

Road rage is very dangerous since violence can escalate quickly. About 37 percent of road rage incidents involve firearms. Law enforcement warns drivers who are confronted with road rage to avoid eye contact, gestures, or shouting. A simple gesture or honk of the horn may be enough to cause a deadly encounter.

Preventing Road Rage

Stress, anger, and drugs and/or alcohol play a significant role in acts of road rage. Courteous driving, obeying traffic laws, avoiding distractions, and staying calm may prevent a dangerous road rage encounter.

If confronted by an aggressive or angry driver, it’s important to stay calm, get away from the vehicle, get to a safe place, and call 911. Drivers who respond with violent or aggressive behaviors can quickly find themselves facing criminal charges if things get out of hand.

If possible, drivers should provide police with the vehicle description, license plate number, and location where the encounter occurred. If followed by an aggressive driver, people should drive to a safe public place or a police station. They should never drive to a dark, unoccupied area or get out of the car to confront the angry driver.

He has won jury trial cases in misdemeanor and felony cases and in DWI’s and non-DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. He is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

People facing criminal charges in Minnesota often ask, “Can you defend yourself in court?” You can represent yourself in court when charged with a crime. Self-representation, however, is not typically in the accused's best interests, even if courts allow it.
Parents whose children have been arrested or accused of committing a heinous crime might wonder, “Can a minor be charged with a felony?” A minor aged 14 years or older but below 18 years may face felony charges in Minnesota.
People accused of or under investigation for assault might ask, “What are the charges for assault?” Minnesota has five levels of assault charges. First-degree assault is the most serious offense, and a conviction often results in the most severe penalties, like long prison time and hefty fines.