Road rage is aggressive behavior that can lead to careless driving, reckless driving, assault, and even death. If you’re involved in a road rage incident that leads to injury or property damage, Sieben Polk P.A. in Minnesota law can help.
Is Road Rage a Crime in Minnesota?
Road rage is a dangerous behavior that can lead to property damage, personal injury, and even death. Road rage is also more common than you may think.
One study found that road rage caused over 200 murders and nearly 13,000 injuries over seven years. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, almost 80 percent of drivers report feeling rage on the road. But is road rage a crime in Minnesota?
There’s a common misconception that road rage doesn’t involve breaking any laws, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. While no Minnesota statute specifically makes road rage a crime in the state, road rage leads to behaviors prohibited by law.
Those behaviors include not only ones that drivers regularly witness, such as cutting off other drivers, but more serious offenses, such as assault with a deadly weapon.
It’s certainly possible to face criminal charges after giving in to an episode of road rage. You can rack up traffic offenses, license suspensions, and jail time for a reckless driving incident that escalates to road rage.
It’s also common for road rage incidents to conclude with accidents that cause personal injury or property damage.
Don’t hesitate to take action if you’ve been on the receiving end of a road rage incident in Minnesota. The experienced lawyers at Sieben Polk Law Firm can help you navigate the legal system and get the compensation you deserve.
Is Road Rage a Criminal Offense in Minnesota?
Road rage can lead to criminal charges if you break Minnesota laws, and the type of behavior associated with road rage often does break laws.
An episode of road rage might violate state laws on reckless or careless driving in Minnesota. Examples of road rage behaviors include:
- Cutting off other drivers
- Threatening other drivers
- Honking at other drivers
- Bumping other drivers
- Side-swiping other drivers
- Physical assault
Careless driving can lead to a criminal misdemeanor charge. Careless driving is defined as operating or stopping a vehicle carelessly in a manner showing a disregard for the safety and road rights of others or endangering property or people.
Reckless driving can result in a misdemeanor or a gross misdemeanor charge. Reckless driving is defined as “consciously disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk” that your aggressive driving could harm a person or property. Reckless driving that causes great bodily injury or death to another person is a gross misdemeanor in Minnesota.
Examples of reckless driving include driving fast through a school zone or doing tricks in an iced-over parking lot.
Road rage can also include non-vehicular offenses, such as assault. Assault from road rage can be a misdemeanor, a gross misdemeanor, or a felony.
According to Minnesota law, assault includes:
- Any act with the intent to cause fear of bodily harm or death
- Intentional infliction of or attempts to inflict bodily harm
Finally, road rage can lead to property damage, which can also be a misdemeanor, a gross misdemeanor, or a felony.
You may be entitled to compensation if you’re the defending party in a road rage incident that results in property damage, such as an accident. Talk to a car accident lawyer to learn your options.
Road rage can also involve motorcycles. Whether you’re the instigating party or not, consult with a motorcycle accident lawyer.
What Is Considered Road Rage?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration makes a distinction between aggressive driving and road rage.
According to the NHTSA, road rage is defined as an assault by a driver on another driver, preceded by an incident on the road.
Examples of road rage include:
- Pushing other drivers off the road or out of the lane
- Bumping other vehicles
- Sideswiping another car
- Shooting a gun
The biggest difference between road rage and aggressive driving is that road rage is a violent offense, while aggressive driving is merely unsafe. The NHTSA defines aggressive driving as operating a vehicle in a way that endangers people or property.
Examples of aggressive driving include:
- Changing lanes illegally or without signaling
- Blocking or cutting other drivers
- Running red lights or stop signs
However, the common vernacular has a more expansive definition of road rage, including behavior like rude gestures, verbal insults, and physical threats.
You can also get charged with assault in Minnesota if you threaten to harm another driver, even if you don’t actually go through with a physical attack.
Why Is Road Rage So Dangerous?
Road rage is dangerous because it often ends in assault and sometimes even death. These incidents can escalate quickly and lead to serious outcomes—in fact, 37 percent of road rage incidents involve a gun. Every year, 30 people are murdered due to road rage.
Most drivers have witnessed a case of road rage, even if not directed at them, but only 10 percent of drivers have reported a road rage incident.
If you witness a road rage incident, write down the license plate number and report it. And if you’re directly involved with a road rage incident, you should never engage with the driver. Engaging in road rage can pose a serious danger, even if you only try to talk the other party down.
How To Deal With Road Rage
You can do a lot to avoid getting into a road rage incident by merely staying calm and driving defensively.
Here’s what you should do if you’re on the receiving end of road rage:
- Don’t engage: It doesn’t matter if the other driver is tailgating you, giving you an obscene gesture, or yelling at you. Focus on removing yourself from the situation safely.
- Get to a safe place and call 911. A safe place means a well-lit public place, preferably somewhere with security cameras. If you can, pull into a police station or call 911.
- Report the encounter: File a police report and include a vehicle description, license plate number, and area where the road rage incident happened.
- Stay in your car: Never get out of the car to confront an angry driver, even if they approach you. Violent and aggressive drivers may face criminal assault charges, and you don’t want to be on the receiving end of that.
You should always get the help of a car or truck accident lawyer to determine whether you’re entitled to compensation for property damage or injuries after a road rage incident. In the event of a catastrophic accident, a wrongful death lawyer can help you.
How To Avoid Getting Angry on the Road
Anyone can be susceptible to road rage, even if you don’t consider yourself an angry person. Driving involves putting yourself in situations outside of your control, and if you have trouble managing stress, it could lead to aggressive driving or road rage behaviors.
You can lessen your road stress and reduce the likelihood that you’ll commit road rage by:
- Being proactive, not aggressive: Instead of merely paying attention to where you want to go, you should pay attention to the other drivers around you. Road rage often results from short-sightedness. For example, you know you’re running late and stressing out about it, and you end up yelling at another driver or driving dangerously.
- Following traffic laws: When you break traffic laws, you’re more likely to get into an altercation with another driver. Even if you’re the one who ran the red light, you might still get angry when another driver honks at you for almost hitting them. You can lessen the odds of getting into stressful driving situations by heeding the road rules.
- Being courteous: Remember that while traffic is annoying, it’s beyond other drivers’ control, so there’s no point in getting angry about it.
- Driving sober: You should never operate a motor vehicle when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Alcohol is associated with increased aggression and can lead to violent crimes like assault.
Our Team of Car Accident Lawyers Are Here To Help
Road rage incidents are scary and can lead to serious harm, including assault and personal property damage. Luckily, you have legal recourse if you’re involved in a situation like this.
The Minnesota team at Sieben Polk Law Firm is here to help you seek legal compensation.
Whether you’ve been assaulted or sustained property damage, we’ll guide you through each legal step while you seek justice. Minnesota has a six-year statute of limitations for car accident lawsuits, so it’s imperative to act fast.