Is road rage a crime?

Road rage endangers many people across the country. However, drivers may not realize that road rage is also considered a crime.

Traffic is often congested in Washington, with many drivers either seeming clueless or rude. Combined with the stressful lifestyle, lack of sleep and other factors that are common among Americans today, it may be no surprise that some drivers lose their patience. Others may be late for work or an appointment and attempt risky maneuvers to get to their destinations faster. Any of these situations can be dangerous, but can they result in criminal charges?

First, it is important for drivers to understand that there is a legal difference between aggressive driving and road rage. Many people drive aggressively at some point. They may speed, follow other drivers too closely or swerve in and out of traffic. Aggressive driving may also involve cutting others off, running red lights and ignoring traffic signs. These actions may be intentional, or a driver may drive aggressively simply to get somewhere faster, without meaning to upset others.

Regardless of the reasons, aggressive driving can be dangerous and will often result in traffic offense charges. On the other hand, road rage is considered a criminal offense, because a driver engaging in this behavior has the intent to cause harm.

Definition of road rage

A driver can cross the line without warning from normal or aggressive driving to road rage. Often, such drivers become angry without much provocation, although it can be easy for otherwise safe drivers to lose their patience if someone else is rude or puts them in danger, inadvertently or not.

The Washington State Department of Licensing explains that drivers engaging in road rage retaliate against other motorists by attempting to use their vehicles or a weapon to harm others, or they may corner their target and try to force them out of their car for a physical confrontation.

Spokane road rage incident stopped

An incident that occurred in Spokane last September illustrated what could happen if an angry driver spirals out of control. Reportedly, two men had stopped their pickup truck in front of an SUV and were attempting to engage the other driver in a violent confrontation while children sat in the back of the SUV. After a third driver left his vehicle and attempted to stop the fight, the men returned to their pickup and drove off. The third driver reported the license plate number to authorities. The men may have faced charges if they were located.

It might not take much to send a driver who is usually polite and rational over the edge, leading him or her to make actions that are later regretted. When facing charges, Washington residents are encouraged to seek an experienced defense.