After a bout of alleged road rage against a 17-year-old driver, a high school teacher, who works with emotionally disturbed students, was arrested in Aloha, Oregon. Bruce Clevenger was charged with hit and run, reckless driving, recklessly endangering another person, and two counts of fourth degree assault and harassment, The Oregonian reports.
The special-needs teacher's story is not an uncommon one. When someone cuts you off or drives at a snail's pace, your grip tightens around the steering, your knuckles turn white, and all you see is red. But here's why it's better to slowly count backwards than satiate your rage fantasy:
You could be charged with harassment.
"Harassment" refers to a range of behaviors that are subject to both criminal and civil liability. Any behavior that causes a credible threat to a person's safety can constitute an act of harassment. In the road rage context, if you brandish a weapon, gesture in a threatening manner, or scream obscenities at a fellow driver, you could face harassment charges.
Another possible consequence of road rage is a "menacing" charge. Menacing often includes single acts which are meant to create a reasonable fear in someone. In the case of road rage, this could include intimidating actions such as aggressive tailgating.
You could be charged with assault -- possibly with a deadly weapon.
In most states, an assault/battery occurs when a person tries or does physically strike another, or acts in a threatening manner to put another in fear of immediate harm.
In road rage cases, a car can constitute a "deadly weapon" and ramp up a traditional assault to an enhanced charge of aggravated assault. When the severity of an assault case rises to the level of an aggravated assault, the penalties increase significantly. This is primarily because aggravated assault constitutes a felony in all states.
Take the high road
Rather than beat your chest and indulge in a criminal offense, when confronted by a road-rager, take the high road. Follow road rage tips and keep the situation in perspective. Driving is stressful, but being convicted of a crime is more stressful.
- Oregon teacher accused of attacking teen in road rage incident (KGW)
- Aggressive Driving: How to Avoid Being a Victim of Road Rage (FindLaw's KnowledgeBase)
- Drivers Need to Face Road Rage and Its Harmful Effects Head-On (FindLaw's KnowledgeBase)
- Texas Road Rage: Deadly, Preventable (FindLaw's KnowledgeBase)