The Florida Times Union just reported on a road rage case on Thursday in St. John’s County. According to the article, a newly licensed teen driver was with her mother and teenage brother when the vehicle behind them honked, flashed its lights and the driver gestured and yelled at them. The second vehicle then rammed the young driver’s car three times. The incident was witnessed by others who reported it to police. The offending driver subsequently was arrested and charged with three counts of aggravated battery, a third degree felony punishable by up to five years imprisonment and one of leaving the scene of a crash, a second degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in the county jail.
This rather egregious example of road rage is not uncommon in Florida. Furthermore, the number of road rage incidents involving guns is on the rise. A study by the nonprofit news organization The Trace found there were more than 1,300 gun-related road rage incidents nationwide from January 2014 to December 2015. And, the study found Florida reported 146 incidents during that time frame. That is the most in the country.
In a recent interesting case reported in the Palm Beach Post, a priest was driving his red corvette (I’m not making this up) on the Florida Turnpike when he “brake checked” a pickup truck closely following his vehicle. When the pickup driver then tried to go around the priest’s ‘vette, the priest allegedly pointed a handgun at the driver (again, I’m not making this stuff up). When questioned by police, the priest reported the pickup driver had pulled up beside his vehicle whereupon someone rolled down a window, started screaming and then threw a drink at his vehicle. While the priest confirmed he had a gun in his vehicle, he contended it was not loaded and it was under the passenger seat during the entire incident. Nonetheless, the priest was arrested and charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
The Sun Sentinel reported on a tragic road rage case occurring in Riviera Beach in June. In that case, a road rage incident apparently lead to an altercation on the shoulder of Interstate 95 resulting in a man’s death after he repeatedly was stabbed. In that particular case the dead man apparently was the provocateur and no charges were filed against the other participants. It is nonetheless a sad reminder of just how quickly road rage incidents can get seriously out of control.
Finally, a road rage case in Brooksville, just north of Tampa reported by Fox News involved anther “brake checking” scenario. There, Daniel Seymour slammed his brakes to discourage a vehicle behind him from following too closely. The vehicle then attempted to pass Seymour. As it did, Seymour sped up and struck the vehicle. Both vehicles then stopped. While the passengers were arguing on the side of the road, Seymour walked to his vehicle and returned with a samurai sword, waving it in a threatening manner. Seymour subsequently was charged with aggravated assault, battery with a deadly weapon and reckless driving.
Road rage cases can give rise to serious felony charges of aggravated assault, aggravated battery, and throwing deadly missiles (usually a soda can or beer bottle thrown at another vehicle in the heat of anger), among others. If you have been arrested for a road rage incident in Duval, Nassau, Clay or St. John’s Counties, you should consider retaining a Jacksonville criminal attorney skilled in discrediting adverse witnesses, where appropriate, and asserting numerous legal defenses to weaken the State’s case against you. Doing so can give you the best chance of avoiding a felony and / or misdemeanor conviction detrimental to your present and future job opportunities and otherwise clearing your name and preserving your reputation.