The New Jersey Legislature recently approved stiffer penalties for individuals found guilty of road rage. Individuals were previously exposed to a fourth degree offense and up to 18 months in jail. The amendment now makes it a third degree offense and carries up to 5 years in jail. The bill loosely defines “road rage” as including any actions or maneuvers of aggression, akin to harassment with a car (e.g. tailgating, driving at an excessive speed, weaving through traffic, etc.).
The legislative revision was contained in a bill captioned “Jessica’s Law”, named after a young lady seriously injured as a result of a road rage incident. Jessica was injured when an individual who believed he was cut off weaved through traffic, causing an accident.
Over the last 15 to 20 years as a defense lawyer, I have learned that there are simply some people out there who could be described as unreasonable, irrational, and even unstable. Many have seen these individuals on the road waving their hands, yelling or even driving aggressively for seemingly nothing. While I certainly agree with the revision of the statute, I have a hard time thinking that it is going to deter the type of individual who engages in “road rage”.