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Is Road Rage a Criminal Offense in TX?

Hot-Headed Driving & Criminal Charges

Cutting people off, tailgating slower vehicles and flipping the bird at unfavorable drivers, to name a few, are alive and well on Texas roads and highways. We all have our bad days and may take our frustrations out on other drivers as a result. You may have been on the receiving end of such actions and behaviors, and understand the threat that road rage poses to motorists.

Road rage is real and impacting drivers’ safety. As such, the law is cracking down on these suspects.

Aggressive driving and speeding are becoming widespread as travel and congestion increase. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) predicts that fatalities and injuries could increase by 50% this year, which is an alarming statistic. That’s why it comes as no surprise that Texas law enforcement officers are working hard to identify and penalize “road ragers.”

Aggressive Driving & Road Rage

Aggressive driving: The NHTSA describes aggressive driving as “the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property.”

This traffic violation includes offenses such as:

  • following too closely
  • changing lanes without caution or signal
  • running a red light
  • improper passing
  • speeding on congested roads
  • weaving in and out of traffic
  • cutting drivers off and slowing down in front of them

Road rage: Although there is no specific “road rage” law in Texas, the state penalizes reckless driving. A person commits an offense if they drive a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. Unlike aggressive driving, which is deemed a traffic offense, road rage is a criminal offense because it involves the intent to cause harm to another. This offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to $200 fines and/or up to 30 days in county jail.

The NHTSA defines the crime of road rage as "an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of one motor vehicle or precipitated by an incident that occurred on a roadway." As such, you may suffer an assault and battery accusation as well as a reckless driving charge for road rage.

Examples of this crime are:

  • cursing and rude or obscene gestures
  • throwing objects
  • ramming
  • sideswiping
  • forcing drivers off the road

Road Rage Causes & Preventions

Several factors play a significant role in road rage incidents. They include:

  • traffic delays
  • distracted driving
  • running late
  • stress
  • anonymity
  • disregard for others and the law
  • habitual or clinical behavior

People inevitably get angry on the road. It’s human nature. However, these feelings and subsequent reckless driving actions could turn into a criminal charge such as assault and battery or reckless driving, therefore it’s in your best interests to learn how to best avoid a road rage charge.

Some tips from AAA Exchange include:

  • maintain adequate following distance
  • use turn signals
  • allow other drivers to merge
  • use your high beams responsibly
  • tap your horn only if it’s necessary
  • be considerate in parking lots (do not park across multiple spaces, hit adjacent cars with your door, etc.)

In sum, aggressive driving involves unsafe driving behaviors, while road rage is an extreme case of aggressive driving. At our firm, we believe you should not suffer the loss of your freedom, driving privileges and livelihood due to your road rage incident. As a result, we will work tirelessly to protect your best interests and help you put your case behind you.

If you are facing criminal charges for road rage in Dallas, contact attorney Peter Barrett at (214) 307-8667 as soon as possible.