Aggressive Driving in Rhode Island

According to the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), “aggressive driving” causes 1/3 of all motor vehicle accidents and 2/3 of fatal motor vehicle accidents in the United States.

As a result, Rhode Island has enacted legislation that specifically addresses aggressive driving and increases penalties for drivers who do not obey the law.

What constitutes aggressive driving?

Rhode Island General Laws § 31-27.1-3, also known as the “Aggressive Driving Act”, states a driver commits aggressive driving when he or she violates two or more of the following sections of law (at the same time or immediately preceding the traffic stop and/or police apprehension):

  1. Obedience to traffic control devices, § 31-13-4;
  2. Overtaking on the right, § 31-15-5;
  3. Driving within a traffic lane, § 31-15-1;
  4. Following too closely — interval between vehicles, § 31-15-12;
  5. Yielding right of way, §§ 31-15-12.1, 31-17-1, 31-17-2, 31-17-4, 31-17-6, 31-17-7 and 31-17-8;
  6. Entering the roadway, §§ 31-15-14, 31-17-3 and 31-17-5;
  7. Use of turn signals, §§ 31-16-5, 31-16-6, 31-16-8 and 31-16-9;
  8. Relating to school buses, special stops, stop signs and yield signs, chapter 20 of this title; and
  9. Use of emergency break-down lane for travel, § 31-15-16.

What are the penalties for aggressive driving in Rhode Island?

The penalties imposed for aggressive driving are generally higher than other traffic violation penalties. While courts assess and impose penalties for aggressive driving on a case-by-case basis, penalties may include:

It is also important to note the State can prosecute the “triggering” offenses (i.e. offenses listed 1-9 above) separately. In other words, the State can charge an individual with “Obedience to traffic control devices” ($85.00 fine) in addition to aggressive driving (even if “Obedience to traffic control devices” is one of the charges used to arrive at or constitute aggressive driving).