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As Temperatures Go Up in Virginia, So Does Road Rage

A recent national television report asserted that road-rage incidents are becoming more common and more deadly, with the latest incident taking place in Pennsylvania, in which a man is alleged to have shot and killed a teenage girl during a traffic merge. Click to watch level-headed advice from your Independent Program Attorney about what to do—and what not to do—in these situations.


Hi, my name is Ed Riley, and I’m a U.S. Law Shield independent program attorney for Virginia.

Members will often ask us how to deal with a road-rage situation. In Virginia, what is referenced as road rage is called aggressive driving in the Statute under VA 46.2–868.1. And the specific point of that is behavior that harasses, intimidates, or someway injures another driver.

If you find yourself a victim of an aggressive driver or road-rage situation, our primary advice is to not engage! To find a safe way to get yourself out of that situation.

If you can’t disengage, or the driver that’s exhibiting the road-rage or aggressive driving behaviors will not leave you alone, then it may be necessary for you to make a call to the police through 9-1-1 or a nonemergency number.

Firearm owners will often ask us, in this type of situation, ‘Can I use my gun to scare the individual off that’s exhibiting the road rage or aggressive driving behavior?’ And the short answer is no. No, you can’t. Because that would be brandishing a firearm.

To use a firearm in Virginia, to defend yourself, you have to be in fear of imminent bodily injury or death, so it has to be harm to yourself at that point. Typically, a road-rage or aggressive driving situation, is not going to have enough intimidation or fear to warrant serious bodily injury or death.

We discuss the use of your firearm in justifiable or excusable self-defense in more detail in other U.S. Law Shield videos and in our recently published book “Virginia Gun Law Armed and Educated.”

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