We’ve all been there – cruising down the highway when someone cuts you off. The urge to tap your brakes may cross your mind, but in Georgia this maneuver comes with serious consequences. Let’s take an in-depth look at what brake checking is, Georgia laws prohibiting it, penalties you may face, and most importantly, how to resist the temptation while driving defensively.
Here’s a quick answer:
Yes, brake checking is illegal in Georgia. Officially known as “sudden deceleration”, Georgia law explicitly prohibits brake checking as a form of aggressive driving that recklessly endangers people and property on the road. If caught, offenders face fines up to $1000, license points, possible suspension, plus civil and criminal liability for any resulting injuries or damages. Drivers should resist the urge to brake check and instead use defensive tactics for dealing with problem motorists.
What is Brake Checking?
Brake checking, also known as a “sudden deceleration,” refers to abruptly pressing your brakes in an attempt to get the driver behind you to rear-end your vehicle. Some do this intentionally to cause an accident and collect money from the other driver’s insurance while others brake check simply to send an aggressive message. Regardless of motive, this dangerous action can quickly lead to collisions, injuries, and legal headaches.
Why Do People Brake Check?
Aggressive drivers may brake check to take out their anger and frustration on other motorists. Typical triggers include getting cut off, tailgated, or passed improperly. Unfortunately, some even see it as an opportunity to commit insurance fraud by intentionally causing an accident. Occasionally, well-meaning drivers may improperly tap their brakes to communicate to others to slow down or back off. However, even lightly brake checking can have unintended consequences if the trailing car does not have time to react.
Is Brake Checking Illegal in Georgia?
Yes, the reckless practice of brake checking breaks Georgia law. Specifically, Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) § 40-6-397 outright prohibits anyone from “driving any vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Since brake checking maliciously endangers those around you, it qualifies as a clear violation.
Beyond the main reckless driving statute, you may also face charges for aggressive driving, improper stopping, following too closely, and more depending on the circumstances surrounding the offense.
What are the Penalties for Brake Checking in Georgia?
Drivers who brake check in the state of Georgia can end up in hot water in multiple ways:
- Traffic Citations – Most commonly, brake checking leads to standard traffic tickets. You’ll likely get cited for aggressive driving, facing fines of around $150 to $1,000 plus points on your GA license. Too many points can lead to suspension or revocation.
- Criminal Charges – In more serious collisions causing injury or major property damage, prosecutors may pursue criminal reckless driving charges. Potential criminal penalties include up to 12 months in jail plus hefty fines up to $5,000.
- Civil Liability – You will bear all financial responsibility for any crash damages and medical bills stemming from your intentional brake check. With today’s costly vehicle repairs and medical care, one poorly-timed stop can saddle you with crushing debt for years.
- License Suspension – Traffic convictions for reckless maneuvers like brake checking also authorize the Georgia DDS to suspend or revoke your driving privileges under O.C.G.A. § 40-5-57. Losing the right to legally operate a motor vehicle severely impacts one’s independence and livelihood.
As you can see, a brief moment of road rage can snowball into lasting detrimental impacts on your finances, mobility, and criminal record if you give in to aggression with dangerous brake checking.
How Can I Avoid the Temptation to Brake Check?
We all understand the gut reaction to brake check a rude tailgater or highway lane jumper. However, protecting yourself legally and physically requires controlling anger and employing smart defensive driving tactics:
- Seek Distance – If an aggressive driver makes you uncomfortable, create space between vehicles. Ease off the gas to gradually slow down and allow them to pass while you increase following distance. Time and distance diffuse tense situations.
- Cancel Cruise Control – Being passed frequently engages cruise control too late to properly slow down. Proactively cancelling helps you regain complete control to adjust speed.
- Release Your Grip – White knuckles on the wheel amplify your internal fury. Consciously loosening your hold improves blood flow while sending psychological signals to relax.
- Play Positive Tunes – Singing along to favorite uplifting songs redirects your mental energies from the surrounding drivers onto something enjoyable.
- Breathe Deeply – Similar to relaxing your hands, take deep abdominal breaths to soothe your fight or flight response to aggressive motorists.
- Limit Eye Contact – Resist the urge to turn your head and stare daggers at rude drivers. Maintain watch straight ahead to avoid nonverbal confrontation.
- Vent Verbally – Yell, shout, and swear to your heart’s content within the privacy of your own vehicle walls. Venting frustration verbally often satisfies the primal urge to act out. Just avoid hand gestures!
By putting physical and emotional distance between yourself and hostile drivers, you retain control and avoid escalating roadway aggression.
What are Some Safe Defensive Driving Alternatives?
Beyond emotions management tips, employing proper defensive driving fundamentals provides effective non-confrontational solutions to concerning motorist behaviors:
- Increase Following Distance – Simply easing off your gas pedal opens up a cushion between you and the car ahead. This minimizes collision impact risk if they brake suddenly while giving you ample time to react.
- Adjust Lane Position – Moving over within your lane signals to tailgaters to back off. Changing lanes entirely detaches you from upset drivers unable to composure themselves.
- Cover Brakes – hovering your foot over the brake pedal primes you to stop suddenly if needed while keeping brake lights off to avoid confusing trailing cars.
- Scan Surroundings – Broaden your attention to activity beside, behind, and many cars ahead to spot problems developing well in advance.
- Signal Intentions – Use turn signals, four-way flashers, hand signals, or hazard lights to clearly telegraph your next moves to other motorists.
- Pull Over – As a last resort, take the next exit or side road to safely pull aside and let threatening drivers carry on without you.
Relying on proactive defensive tactics beats succumbing to destructive aggressive behaviors behind the wheel every time in order to keep you and your passengers out of harm’s way.
The Bottom Line
Hopefully you now better understand brake checking remains very much against the law in Georgia. Beyond mere traffic fines, you face potential license suspension plus civil and criminal liability when injuring others or damaging property. Rather than risking so much over a rush of road rage, lean on anger management and defensive driving best practices. Prioritizing safety delivers you securely to your destination without legal trouble or financial burdens down the road. Drive on carefully and calmly!
|Brake checking involves abruptly tapping brakes to get trailing vehicle to hit you
|O.C.G.A. § 40-6-397 prohibits reckless driving behaviors like brake checking
|Anger, frustration, aggression, insurance fraud
|Traffic fines, license points/suspension, jail time, civil liability
|Distance yourself, release anger safely, defensive driving
|Increase space, adjust speed/lane, cover brakes, signal intentions
Here are 5 related FAQs on brake checking laws in Georgia:
1. Is brake checking considered aggressive driving in Georgia?
Yes, under Georgia law brake checking is considered a form of aggressive driving. It violates statutes prohibiting driving that willfully endangers people or property.
2. Can you go to jail for brake checking in Georgia?
Yes, in Georgia you may face criminal charges and up to 12 months in jail if your brake checking causes an accident with injuries or major property damage. Prosecutors treat extremely reckless behaviors as criminal acts.
3. Is brake tapping illegal in Georgia?
While less extreme than brake checking, even tapping brakes briefly to communicate with other drivers risks unintended accidents. All reckless driving that threatens safety breaks Georgia law.
4. How much are fines for brake checking in Georgia?
Expect to pay aggressive driving fines ranging from $150 to $1,000 if cited for brake checking in Georgia, plus receive points on your GA license that could lead to suspension if accumulated.
5. Can you sue someone who brake checked you in Georgia?
Yes, the brake checker would bear full civil liability for any injuries or vehicle repairs caused by them intentionally causing an accident through reckless driving maneuvers like sudden braking.