- A person commits the offense of aggressive driving when he or she operates any motor vehicle with the intent to annoy, harass, molest, intimidate, injure, or obstruct another person.
- Drivers who are guilty of breaking Georgia’s aggressive driving law can be held liable for damages.
- In Georgia, using a motor vehicle to threaten or intimidate another driver is punishable by a heavy fine ($5,000) and/or up to 12 months in jail.
What It Is
Road rage is aggressive, angry, often violent behavior exhibited by the driver of a vehicle, usually toward other motorists on streets or highways. These behaviors include, but are certainly not limited to offensive gestures, verbal insults, physical threats, or reckless use of a vehicle to intimidate another driver or a pedestrian.
It seems to be an outpouring of frustration aimed at others using the highway system. Whatever the reason, every year we see more and more of the dangerous behavior we have come to call Road Rage.
Road Rage is Not Just Bad Manners
However you choose to define it, Road Rage has become a serious threat on our highways. Statistically, it’s a bigger problem than you might imagine.
This is not just young men blowing off steam, although males under the age of twenty are the ones most likely to exhibit these aggressive behaviors. It turns out that when a driver is the target of an aggressive, angry driver, even the mildest among us is apt to respond in kind. When someone honks or sends a one-finger signal, some return the favor in spite of their better nature.
Shockingly, about half of all road rage incidents involve a firearm. About two-thirds of all traffic fatalities can be blamed squarely on aggressive driving. Not surprisingly, then, Georgia lawmakers have taken steps to identify and provide punishment for aggressive driving.
Aggressive Driving – A Misdemeanor in Georgia
Under Georgia law, aggressive driving is a serious traffic offense. The penalty for driving aggressively in Georgia is explained in O.C.G.A. 40-6-397 (2010).
A person commits the offense of aggressive driving when he or she operates any motor vehicle with the intent to annoy, harass, molest, intimidate, injure, or obstruct another person. Examples of aggressive driving behavior may include:
- passing or overtaking another vehicle
- violating traffic lane markings
- violating traffic signals
- violating lane changes, slowing, or stopping laws.
Following too closely, impeding traffic, or driving recklessly, are also behaviors performed by motorists who are guilty of aggressive driving. Any person convicted of aggressive driving shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.
In other words, the lawmakers in our state recognize that using a motor vehicle to threaten or intimidate another human being is very serious and totally unacceptable. This crime is punishable by a heavy fine ($5,000) and/or up to twelve-months in jail; it is as serious as a DUI would be.
When You Are the Target of Road Rage
With incidents of road rage on the rise, it is prudent for all drivers to understand how to avoid the potential deadly consequences of such behavior. Whether or not you may have somehow provoked this bad behavior in the other driver, you and your passengers will be safer if you refuse to take part in the Road Rage game.
Interestingly, the way to handle an aggressive driver is very much like the best way to handle an aggressive or dangerous dog:
- Remain calm.
- Avoid eye contact.
- Don’t respond to his aggression in kind.
- Don’t retaliate – this will cause the event to escalate.
- Continue to practice defensive driving skills.
Sometimes violent encounters with aggressive people cannot be avoided. If you try to prevent such altercations yet are injured by someone else’s road rage, understand that Georgia Law provides some relief.
Road Rage Recourse
Georgia’s Aggressive Driving laws are fairly new. Nevertheless, if you have been injured as the result of Road Rage behaviors, you may have recourse. Drivers who are guilty of breaking Georgia’s aggressive driving law can be held liable for damages; they may be required by law to pay for bodily injury and property damage in addition to being convicted of a misdemeanor and any sentence(s) that crime might entail.
If you think that you have been the victim of such a crime, we recommend gathering the evidence you have—the police report, medical reports, and an itemization of repair costs for your property—and making an appointment with an attorney.
Call a Personal Injury Lawyer
The best way to know if you have a viable claim for damages against an aggressive driver is to speak to an attorney. By reviewing the facts, evidence, and circumstances, a lawyer can determine whether or not your claim might be won in court. Call us today at 740-400-0000.