Criminal DefensePersonal Injury

The Dangers of Road Rage in Florida

By March 2, 2015No Comments

If you have a driver’s license, you’ve most likely encountered some form of angry driver while on the road. This person may have cut you off, driven too slowly in the left lane, weaved in and out of traffic, or hovered too closely behind your vehicle, making you feel uneasy. It’s how we handle ourselves in these situations that can determine the severity of the encounter. Recognizing road rage before it gets out of hand is of upmost importance to ensuring your safety as well as the safety of those around you.

Recent Stories of Road Rage

Last month, a man was arrested in Pasco County when sheriff deputies discovered he had stabbed a woman in a Sam’s Club parking lot. The incident took place in the middle of the afternoon on a Saturday when two drivers experienced road rage. Both decided to pull their cars over on the shoulder of U.S. 19. This useful reference can also help you.The first driver from  began striking the passenger of the other vehicle through her window and she was able to drive off and park her car behind a Sam’s Club nearby. The other driver followed the woman, confronted her, and stabbed her twice in the upper torso with a knife.

A Las Vegas road rage incident recently made national news when an angered teen followed a woman home and proceeded to open fire, killing the 44-year-old mother of four, Tammy Meyers. The road rage transpired when the teen’s car sped up and pulled alongside Tammy and her 15-year-old daughter. The daughter reached over and honked the horn. The driver stopped in front of them, got out and angrily approached their vehicle threatening to come after Meyers and her daughter. Meyers took her daughter home, but went out in the neighborhood again with her son who had a pistol, looking for the suspect. Just a short drive from home is where she encountered the driver once again and he followed her back to her house and gunshots were fired both from her son and the suspect. A bullet struck Meyers and she later died in the hospital.

These are just two examples of road rage gone wrong – and the impact that occurs when tempers are not controlled. This leads us to consider what Florida law says about this type of behavior, and whether it is even regulated at all in our state. The bottom line is that Florida has a statute addressing “aggressive” behavior, which is not necessarily the same thing as road rage. Although road rage can lead to aggressive driving, it differs in that road rage is usually typified by an incident that escalates into a criminal offense, such as assault.

What exactly is aggressive driving?

Florida has an aggressive careless driving statute (316.1923). Aggressive driving occurs when a driver does any two of the following offenses at the same time or one right after the other:

  1. Exceeds the posted speed limit
  2. Unsafely or improperly changes lanes
  3. Tailgates, or follows another vehicle too closely
  4. Fails to yield the right-of-way
  5. Improperly or dangerously passes another vehicle
  6. Violates traffic control or signal devices

Although there is a separate aggressive driving statute, there are no additional penalties for violating this law. Basically, it is kept on the books for statistical purposes to track accidents involving aggressive driving. Aggressive driving and road rage, in many instances go hand in hand. Where the line becomes blurry is when a driver becomes frustrated and takes it to another level by acting in an aggressive and dangerous manner as a result of the frustration.

A law recently implemented in the state of Florida may address some of the road rage concerns. The law went into effect in 2013 and makes it illegal for motorists to drive more than 10 miles below the speed limit in the left lane of a multiple-lane road or highway if another car is coming up behind them. If ticketed for this offense, the driver could be fined $60 and the ticket would have the same effect on a driver’s record as a speeding ticket, meaning there’s potential it could lead to a higher insurance bill.

In Florida, drivers with road rage can face criminal and civil penalties when they drive recklessly and aggressively. Depending on the facts, Florida law may support civil claims for negligence, assault, battery, or even false imprisonment. If intentional acts of harm were involved, punitive damages may be available. To determine what damages you may be able to recover in a Tampa Bay road rage accident, contact the personal injury lawyers at McIntyre Thanasides Bringgold Elliott Grimaldi & Guito, P.A. today.

TJ Grimaldi

TJ Grimaldi

TJ Grimaldi joined McIntyre in 2011. McIntyre recruited TJ to create the divisions of personal injury and family law, as well as to expand the existing criminal defense practice at the firm. During TJ’s tenure at McIntyre, he has helped oversee and grow these practice areas. He continues to practice in these divisions while also expanding his own practice areas to include estate planning and immigration law. TJ is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of Florida and the United States District Court for the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida.