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Car AccidentsMay 27, 2024

Everything You Need to Know About Brake-Checking Legal in New York

Is brake-checking ever legal in New York? Learn the dangers and potential legal ramifications of this aggressive driving tactic.

Have you ever been rear-ended after the driver in front of you slammed on their brakes for no apparent reason? This dangerous maneuver is called brake-checking, and it's a recipe for disaster on New York roads.

This blog will explain everything you need to know about brake-checking, including its dangers, legal implications, and what to do if you've been the victim of this aggressive driving tactic.

What is Break-Checking?

Ever been cruising down the highway only to have the car in front of you slam on their brakes for no apparent reason? That, my friends, is the not-so-gentle art of brake-checking.

It's a dangerous tactic where a driver deliberately applies their brakes abruptly, often hoping to scare or even cause a rear-end collision with the car following behind.

Here's the breakdown on why brake-checking is a terrible idea:

  • It's Dangerous: Surprise brake checks can cause following drivers to slam on their brakes too late, leading to accidents, injuries, and even fatalities.
  • It's Angry: Brake-checking is usually rooted in road rage or frustration with another driver, but it never solves anything.
  • It's Illegal (Sort Of): While there's no law specifically against brake-checking, it can fall under reckless driving which carries fines, license suspension, and even jail time in New York.

What is Considered Aggressive Driving?

Aggressive driving is any behavior on the road that creates a dangerous situation for yourself and other drivers. This includes:

  • Speeding: Exceeding the speed limit is a major cause of accidents.
  • Tailgating: Following too closely behind another vehicle doesn't give you enough time to react if they brake suddenly.
  • Improper lane changes: Swerving in and out of traffic without signaling is reckless and dangerous.
  • Cutting off other drivers: Merging into traffic without checking your blind spots can cause accidents.

The Dangers of Break-Checking

Brake-checking is a particularly dangerous form of aggressive driving because it creates an unexpected hazard for the driver behind. Here's why it's so risky:

  • Rear-End Collisions: Sudden braking can easily lead to a rear-end collision, especially if the following driver isn't maintaining a safe distance. These collisions can cause serious injuries like whiplash, back pain, and even head trauma.
  • Increased Road Rage: Brake-checking can escalate road rage incidents. The driver you target might retaliate, putting everyone on the road at risk.
  • Loss of Control: If a driver swerves to avoid a brake-check, they could lose control of their vehicle and hit another car or object.

Determining Fault in a Rear-End Collision

New York follows a comparative negligence system in car accidents. This means fault (and blame for damages) can be shared between drivers. 

The law generally assumes the following driver is at fault in a rear-end collision. They're expected to maintain a safe distance and be able to stop in time if the car in front brakes suddenly. This applies even if the car in front brakes abruptly due to an unexpected hazard.

However, there's a wrench thrown into the works: brake-checking. When a driver in front intentionally slams on their brakes to irritate or punish the driver behind them, it can cause a collision – even if the following driver was maintaining a safe distance.

Is Break-Checking Illegal in New York?

Is brake-checking illegal in New York? Buckle up, because the answer isn't a simple yes or no.

Brake-checking itself isn't explicitly outlawed in New York. However, it can be considered reckless driving under New York Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) § 1212. This law applies to any driver who operates a motor vehicle in a manner that creates an unreasonable risk of serious physical injury to themselves or others.

A conviction for reckless driving in New York can result in:

  • Points on your license
  • Fines
  • Up to one year in jail

The specific penalties will depend on the severity of the offense and whether anyone was injured.

Potential Legal Consequences of Break-Checking in New York

Brake-checking is a dangerous and illegal maneuver in New York. It puts yourself and others at risk, and can land you in legal hot water. If you cause an accident by brake-checking another driver, you could face serious legal consequences. These could include:

  • Civil Liability: You could be sued by the other driver for their damages, including medical bills, lost wages, and car repairs.
  • Criminal Charges: If the accident results in serious injuries, you could face criminal charges for reckless driving or even assault. 

Remember, the road is for sharing, not for playing brake-checking games. Drive defensively, maintain a safe distance, and keep your cool behind the wheel.

What to Do if You Have Been the Victim of Break-Checking

If you've been rear-ended after another driver brake-checked you, here's what you should do:

  • Seek Medical Attention: Get checked out by a doctor, even if you don't feel any pain immediately. Injuries like whiplash can take time to appear.
  • Contact the Police: File a police report to document the accident.
  • Gather Evidence: If possible, try to get the contact information of any witnesses. You should also take pictures of the damage to your car and the scene of the accident. Having a dashcam that captures the brake-checking maneuver is a game-changer.
  • Contact Your Insurance Company: Report the accident as soon as possible.
  • Contact a Car Accident Attorney: An experienced attorney can help you navigate the legal process and fight for the compensation you deserve.

How The Case Handler Can Help

Remember, navigating a brake-checking accident claim can be complex. By understanding New York's comparative negligence laws and gathering strong evidence, you can increase your chances of a fair outcome. If you've been injured in a car accident caused by brake-checking, The Case Handler can help. Our experienced New York City car accident attorneys will investigate your case, gather evidence, and fight to get you the compensation you deserve for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.Contact The Case Handler today for a free consultation.

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