You're driving along minding your own business when you're suddenly cut off by some moron who misses your fender by an inch, grins at you, guns his sports car as he speeds down the road, and leaves you in the dust.
How do you feel? Humiliated? Shaken up? Lucky to be alive? Glad he is ahead of you? Disappointed not to hear a siren chasing him?
Or maybe you feel a surge of pure anger and the need to show him (or her!) who's boss. You're enraged! Your heart is beating faster and you want revenge-you want to catch up at all costs and get satisfaction by doing to him what he did to you!
This is a formula for disaster-and if you were thinking clearly you'd realize that you should calm down and thank your lucky stars that you aren't upside down in a roadside ditch.
But sometimes the urge for revenge trumps common sense and you give chase, swerving and speeding through traffic to catch up. The worst possible outcome is that someone gets hurt.
Jessica's Law - New Jersey's Road Rage Law
In 2005, a 16-year-old girl named Jessica Rogers was a passenger in a car that was cut off by another driver. The car she was in cut off other cars in an attempt to catch up, but ended up in a terrible crash. Jessica remembers nothing of the accident, but since then she has endured 24 surgeries and still needs help dressing, showering and getting into bed. The enraged motorist received four months in jail.
On April 20, 2012, Governor Christie signed a bill called Jessica's Law that greatly increases the penalties for causing injury during a road rage incident. Jessica's law became effective immediately.
Here's how the new statute reads:
Assault by auto or vessel is a crime of the third degree if the person purposely drives a vehicle in an aggressive manner directed at another vehicle and serious bodily injury results and is a crime of the fourth degree if the person purposely drives a vehicle in an aggressive manner directed at another vehicle and bodily injury results. For purposes of this paragraph, "driving a vehicle in an aggressive manner" shall include, but is not limited to, unexpectedly altering the speed of the vehicle, making improper or erratic traffic lane changes, disregarding traffic control devices, failing to yield the right of way, or following another vehicle too closely.
As you can see, the law covers the various things that enraged motorists do to catch up to the driver who made them angry-including speeding up and slowing down, swerving, going through lights, failing to yield, and/or tailgating.
The legislature and the governor were determined to put an end to this kind of behavior. If a motorist is convicted of causing any type of bodily injury as a result of aggressive driving, the penalty is up to 18 months in prison, a fine of up to $10,000 or both. If the victim is seriously injured, like Jessica, then the penalty is three to five years in prison, a fine of up to $15,000 or both. These penalties are serious.
In the event that you are charged with a road rage incident, you will need a lawyer. Even though the "other guy" may have started it, you are the one the State will prosecute.
As with any serious charge, never go to court alone. Road Rage charges are not only devastating personally, they can have real consequences for a person's livelihood and even their freedom. If you have been charged with violating Jessica's Law, the experienced road rage defense attorneys at Brickfield & Donahue would welcome your inquiries. We have helped many people through the criminal justice system and if you contact us immediately, an experienced criminal defense lawyer from our office will do their best to ensure that your case is handled properly and promptly. To contact a criminal defense attorney at Brickfield & Donahue, call (201) 488-7707 or send us an email.
Come talk to us. We are experienced defense attorneys who will listen to you and defend you vigorously.