New Jersey Road Rage Accident Lawyer
Recently road rage has become more common with the increase in traffic, which leads drivers to become frustrated with other drivers impeding their daily commute to and from work. Frustration often makes some drivers lose their tempers, honk their horns, or roll down a window and shout at the offending motorist. However, some drivers are much more aggressive in expressing their rage, which may manifest in tailgating, chasing another vehicle and even running them off the road.
The original New Jersey road rage law stated a person could, at most, only be charged with a fourth degree assault by auto under N.J.S.A 2C:12-1c(1). The criterion for the charge was based on reckless driving resulting in serious bodily injury.
In 2012, New Jersey passed a new aggressive driving law to increase criminal penalties for drivers injuring others while in the grip of road rage. The new law, referred to as Jessica’s Law, is named after Jessica Rogers, 16-years-old at the time of her accident, who ended up paralyzed from the waist down after a car accident. The driver of the car Rogers’ was riding in was cut off by another motorist and became so angry, she chased the vehicle and ended up ramming into a telephone pole. Consequently, Jessica became bound to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. The driver of the car she was in spent four months in jail.
Jessica’s Law increases penalties for accidents resulting from road rage. Under this law, if road rage results in serious injuries, the driver can be charged with a third degree offense. Third degree offense, in New Jersey, are punishable with three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. If the aggressive driving leads to injuries of lesser type, the driver can be charged with a fourth degree offense. Fourth degree offenses are punishable with up to 18 months in jail and a $10,000 fine.
A motorist is deemed to be guilty under the new law if the operator drives in an aggressive manner directed at another vehicle and bodily injury results. Aggressive driving includes, but is not limited to:
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Erratic lane changes
- Unexpected changes of speed
- Improper lane changes
- Disregarding traffic signs
It may be difficult for the state to differentiate aggressive driving purposely directed at another driver from general negligence or reckless behavior, and it may also be difficult to distinguish which driver was the aggressor. This is why if you have been involved in a road rage accident, you need to speak to a competent and knowledgeable New Jersey road rage accident attorney at the Todd J. Leonard Law Firm.