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  are generally higher than other traffic violation penalties. While courts assess and impose penalties for 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  (even if “Obedience to traffic control devices” is one of the charges used to arrive at or constitute.