Last week the American Automobile Association (the “AAA”) released a surprising study revealing that 80 percent of the drivers surveyed have experienced and exhibited some form of road rage. And get this, drivers in the Northeast were 30% more likely to have made an angry gesture than drivers in other parts of the country.
Many of the top criminal lawyers in Stamford, Greenwich and elsewhere in Connecticut are probably not surprised by these statistics, as they know firsthand that road rage episodes in Connecticut can quickly get you arrested in Stamford, Norwalk or Bridgeport Connecticut for Breach of Peace Second Degree, Disorderly Conduct, Threatening Second Degree, or misdemeanor or felony Assault.
So before—or after—the road rage escalates to a Connecticut criminal arrest, keep these 3 tips in mind while dealing with your road rage—or the aftermath of it—in the Norwalk, Stamford, or Bridgeport Superior Courts.
When a Stamford, Greenwich, New Canaan or Darien Connecticut police officer responds to a road rage 911 call, they typically do not want to arrest people. They see the call for what it is—just a bad moment that escalates to threats or fights. The police don’t want to do the paperwork, and usually don’t want to put people through the embarrassment and humiliation of a Connecticut road rage arrest. So that’s when you have your chance to calm yourself down…talk calmly with the officer…and offer to apologize (even if you’re convinced the road rage altercation was not entirely your fault). If the officer is convinced that the situation is calm and everyone is safe, then they have broad discretion to just issue warnings to each party and not arrest anyone—a much smarter and cost-effective alternative than being arrested and plastered on the internet for getting arrested, even if you have to eat a little crow.
Many of the best Stamford, Greenwich and Norwalk Connecticut criminal law firms can remember a time when court-appointed mediators handled road rage arrest cases that did not involve serious injury. Prosecutors and judges just didn’t have the time—and still don’t have the time today—to try and work out petty road rage disputes. So they would rely upon mediators to facilitate “sit-downs” at the courthouse, where each of the defendants and their lawyers could work out their differences, accept responsibility, say they’re sorry, and move on with their lives. Those days of criminal court mediation are long gone, as the mediation program was terminated due to budget cuts. But as top Connecticut criminal lawyers know, when two feuding dual arrest defendants resolve their differences and then jointly ask the court on the record to dismiss a case because they’re no longer afraid, we’ve seen road rage arrests cases get nolled and dismissed.
As the best Fairfield County Connecticut criminal law firms know, most road rage conduct can be considered illegal and threatening. While our First Amendment does protect some of our rights to utter profanities and other language to other drivers, the language is not permitted to cause alarm, disturbance, annoyance or fear to another driver, or you can get arrested in Connecticut for Breach of Peace Second Degree. Here’s what’s illegal: purposefully and dangerously tailgating, physically threatening other drivers, blocking other cars from changing lanes, cutting off other cars, getting out of your car to confront the other driver, or intentionally bumping or ramming another car.
Here’s what’s typically legal road rage conduct (but in no way condoned by this blog or our law firm): excessive honking, or making angry gestures. Be warned, however, that even these minor gestures and confrontations can quickly escalate to very dangerous and physical confrontations, so it’s always our advice, as well as the advice of many of the top Greenwich Connecticut criminal lawyers and attorneys, to not engage in any kind of confrontation on the roads. You just never know who you could be dealing with, and whether they will snap or harm you or your family.
So while we all periodically get enraged and frustrated with Connecticut traffic and motorists, know how to de-escalate a road rage situation and prevent a Connecticut road rage arrest. And if you nevertheless find yourself arrested in Connecticut for road rage, Disorderly Conduct, Breach of Peace or Assault, then contact the Mark Sherman Law Firm to assist you in trying to get your case dismissed. Check out our Avvo.com certified reviews from our former clients, and then contact us today at (203) 358-4700.