Is it legal to brake check a tailgating driver in Illinois? Here’s what state law says

Is “brake checking” legal in Illinois, and what should you do if you encounter an angry driver on the road?

Brake checking is when a driver slams their brakes not to avoid hitting something in front of them, but to make the person behind them slam their brakes or swerve off the road to avoid a crash. Frustrated drivers sometimes brake check someone they feel is tailgating them.

The practice is “dangerous” and “illegal,” according to Chicago personal injury law firm Curcio & Casciato.

“No person may stop or suddenly decrease the speed of a vehicle without first giving an appropriate signal in the manner provided in this Chapter to the driver of any vehicle immediately to the rear when there is opportunity to give such a signal,” the Illinois Vehicle Code reads.

Illinois law also prohibits drivers from tailgating or following another vehicle “more closely than is reasonable and prudent.”

Curcio & Casciato reports brake checking is considered “reckless driving” in the Land of Lincoln. Reckless driving leads to a minimum of a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois and can carry more severe penalties depending on whether anyone was injured. Class A misdemeanors can lead to imprisonment of less than one year and a fine between $75 and $2,500 in Illinois.

Don’t miss these safe driving tips

Auto club AAA offers safety tips to help mitigate the dangers of driving near people who are acting aggressively or experiencing road rage.

Best practices include:

  • Maintaining adequate following distance

  • Using turn signals

  • Allowing drivers to merge

  • Using your high beam headlights responsibly

  • Avoiding long blasts of your horn

  • Don’t park across multiple spaces in a parking lot, and make sure not to hit a car when opening your door.

AAA also recommends drivers avoid eye contact with angry motorists, drive to a public space if you feel you are at risk, stay as calm and courteous as possible and call 911 if you feel you are in immediate physical danger.

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