Getting stuck in traffic can be an incredibly stressful experience, particularly if the flow of traffic is much slower than the speed limit and you are already running late for work, or an important appointment or meeting. The stress of not having control over the speed at which you travel can lead people to lash out.
Road rage is a well-known phenomenon in which drivers focus their anger on one other driver and potentially confront them after following them through traffic. Road rage cases have sometimes resulted in violent physical altercations or even fatalities.
Some states have put laws in place that specifically ban any behavior that could count as road rage. Although Florida does not have a road rage law specifically in place, there are other laws that could mean you will face criminal consequences for a violent crime that results from traffic issues.
Becoming physically or verbally abusive could result in assault charges
The definition of assault in Florida includes physically or verbally threatening another person with violence while apparently having the means to carry out that threat. If you are behind the wheel of a car and making threatening gestures, staring menacingly or shouting violent threats, that could be adequate reason for the state to bring simple assault charges against you even if you never get out of your vehicle or physically touch the other driver.
Simple assault is usually a second-degree misdemeanor which could result in as much as 60 days in jail, a fine of $500 and up to six months of probation. It is also possible to face aggravated assault charges if you had a weapon when threatening the other party. Aggravated assault is a third-degree felony that can mean five years in jail.
If you actually place hands on the other person and cause them any kind of injury, you may face charges of battery. Those charges will vary depending on the injuries that result, but they usually start as first-degree misdemeanors and become more serious from there.
Road rage is on the rise in Florida
Research shows that road rage incidents across the state went up by 71% between 2014 and 2017. That means that more drivers than ever before are becoming angry, aggressive and even violent because of traffic. Just because it's common doesn't mean that law enforcement or the courts will ignore the issues involved in your traffic altercation.
A road rage incident that results in assault or battery charges could not only create a legal hassle for you but also impact your education, personal life or career. It is typically in your best interest to speak with an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney as soon as you know you will face charges related to a road rage incident.