New road rage law aims to curb future incidents

Jul 8, 2024, 9:00 PM

Peter Salm, a family member of a fatal road rage victim, shakes hands with Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Wood...

Peter Salm, a family member of a fatal road rage victim, shakes hands with Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, during a press conference concerning road-rage legislation held by the Utah Department of Public Safety at the south steps of the Utah state Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 20, 2024.

SALT LAKE CITY — A law intended to provide harsher penalties for road rage has now gone into effect in Utah. The bill was signed into law earlier this year by Governor Spencer Cox after passing through the state legislature. The law first went into effect on July 1st.

This year, multiple communities were rocked by fatal road rage incidents across the state. One particularly gruesome incident led to the death of Michael Brown, a father whose children saw the entire altercation.

According to data from Utah Department of Transportation, aggressive driving fatalities saw a massive increase in recent years. Aggressive driving deaths, which includes road rage, remained consistently low from 2015 to 2019, with the highest being 19 in 2016. Since 2020, the annual count of aggressive driving deaths hasn’t dipped below 25. These fatalities peaked in 2022 with 31 deaths in total.

After a rash of road rage deaths and attacks earlier this year, many began calling for change.

With the new law in effect, officers can increase the severity of a charge if road rage is found to be a cause in the incident. For example, a class B misdemeanor could be “enhanced” to a class A misdemeanor if road rage is involved. 

The law also created an educational campaign, including videos about the consequences of road rage.

In addition, a judge can revoke a driver’s license on a first road rage offense if deemed necessary. 

Lastly, the law allows for impounding of cars after a violation. 

Lawmakers hope that increasing the penalties connected to road rage will discourage aggression in two ways.

Firstly, knowledge of increased penalties could deter drivers from aggressive behavior.

Second, those who those who still engage in road rage can be removed from roadways via impounding cars and revoking driver’s licenses.

Related: Two men, one teen in custody after alleged road rage and leading police on a multiple state chase

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New road rage law aims to curb future incidents