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Is Road Rage Illegal in Illinois?

In September of this year, Illinois State Police investigated an incident that was caught on film. The video shows the driver of a black car in the middle lane of I-57 swinging a bat at the vehicle in the lane to her left. Later, she stopped her car on the highway, exited her vehicle, and hit the hood of the other car with the bat, and returned to her vehicle. Eventually, the passenger of the other car got out and pulled the woman out of her vehicle. They got into an altercation, which the other driver ultimately got involved in.

The video of the incident on I-57 is an example of what people commonly refer to as road rage. This type of conduct typically involves aggressive behavior carried out on a street or highway that is expressed through words or actions.

In Illinois, road rage isn't specifically prohibited by the law, but that doesn't mean it's not illegal. When a person is involved in a road rage incident, they are engaging in behavior that could be considered violent or destructive. Therefore, although Illinois doesn't have a law titled "Road Rage," it does have statutes that prohibit the underlying conduct of the incident.

Criminal Damage to Property

Let's return to the incident that happened on I-57. Eventually, law enforcement apprehended the woman seen in the video swinging the bat. They arrested her and charged her with criminal damage to property.

The law concerned with this type of conduct is 720 ILCS 5/21-1. It states that it is illegal to knowingly damage someone else's property unless the person had consent to do so. In the September of 2019 incident, it did not appear that the woman swinging the bat had permission to damage the other person's car.

Destroying someone else's property can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.

The level of the charge depends on the value of the item damaged:

  • $500 and below is a Class A misdemeanor, which could result in up to 1 year in jail
  • Between $501 and $10,000 is a Class 4 felony, and a conviction carries a prison term of up to 3 years
  • Between $10,001 and $100,000, a Class 3 felony, with a conviction carrying a prison sentence of up to 5 years
  • Over $100,000 is a Class 2 felony and could result in a prison term of up to 7 years

Reckless Driving Law

Criminal damage to property isn't the only law a road rage driver could be accused of breaking. Illinois has on the books reckless driving statute 625 ILCS 5/11-503. According to this statute, a person engages in unlawful behavior when they willfully operate a vehicle on the road recklessly or without any regard for the safety of others.

A violation of the law results in a:

  • Class A misdemeanor charge when a person drives recklessly
  • Class 4 felony charge when the conduct results in bodily harm to a child or a crossing guard while performing their official duties

When a person causes great bodily harm or permanent disfigurement to someone else, the offense can be elevated to aggravated reckless driving, which is a Class 4 felony. However, if the injury was caused to a child or a crossing guard performing their duties, the crime is a Class 3 felony.

Road Rage-Related Citations

On top of criminal charges, a person involved in a road rage incident could be ticketed for their conduct. The woman in the video was cited for improper lane usage, failure to signal, and improper parking on the roadway.

If you were charged with a criminal offense in Chicago, get the aggressive defense you need by calling the Law Office of Steven Fine at (312) 436-0638 or contacting us online.