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Can I face criminal charges for aggressive driving?

Many drivers in Illinois and elsewhere react differently to stressful situations behind the wheel than they would in person, and you might agree. If someone bumps into you at the grocery store, you both might apologize and go on your way. However, a mistake in traffic can have different results.

Many Americans are stressed out, and congested roads can add to the strain. Whether you are running late to work during rush hour traffic or someone cuts you off, it might be tempting to react aggressively. If you give in to the urge to “get back” at another driver and someone is hurt, what kind of charges might you face?

First, you should understand that there is a difference between aggressive driving and what is known as road rage. The American Safety Council explains that aggressive driving is treated as a traffic offense, but road rage is a criminal matter. This is because road rage behavior is a deliberate attempt to cause harm. Aggressive driving behaviors, such as tailgating, speeding and cutting others off, can cause accidents but are usually not done with the intent to hurt someone or cause property damage.

Like countless other drivers, you may be in a hurry to get somewhere and dealing with inattentive or rude drivers can cause you to lose your patience. It is important to consider the potential consequences of an aggressive driving or road rage charge. At the least, you might face a hefty fine. More serious penalties can result if you were held responsible for causing an accident or someone else’s injury or death. You are entitled to a competent defense, but you should not substitute this information for the advice of a lawyer.

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