Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Mar 7, 2022

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Key Takeaways

  • Hitting someone with a car is classified as vehicular assault in many states
  • Vehicular assault includes injuries resulting from reckless or careless driving, a driver under the influence, or a driver who chooses to drive with a revoked or suspended license
  • The consequences of a vehicular assault charge vary between states and can be a misdemeanor or felony

Mistakes often happen. People can sometimes hit a neighboring trashcan or mailbox. These instances can cause exasperation, stress, and a shameful walk to the doorbell. However, what happens if you hit someone with your car? Is it considered assault, and can you be tried for a crime?

Finding answers to these questions may leave many drivers scratching their heads while contemplating the worst-case scenario. In some states, hitting someone with your car is a crime called vehicular assault and can have severe penalties. In other states, hitting someone with your car would fall under battery, and you would face charges accordingly.

A driver’s intention is also a consideration. If you intentionally hit someone else with your car, you may be subject to stricter and more severe criminal charges than if the collision was an accident. Additionally, hitting someone with your vehicle can impact other areas of life. You may have to serve jail or prison time, your license may be suspended or revoked, and your insurance premiums may increase.

Liability insurance is the best coverage to have if you are concerned about hitting other vehicles, being hit, or road rage incidents. Liability insurance covers any bodily injuries or costs to repair other cars in a collision. Liability insurance will not cover damages to your property but will cover repairs to other vehicles in accidents that you are at fault.

Use your ZIP code in our free car insurance comparison tool to see which car insurance companies and coverage options work best for you.

Hitting Someone With a Car Is Vehicular Assault in Some States

There are no states where it is okay to hit someone with your car. However, some states separate vehicular assault from other forms of assault. States that recognize vehicular assault as a standalone crime include:

  • Colorado
  • Tennessee
  • Delaware
  • Oregon
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Washington

Anyone who strikes another person with their vehicle can be charged and tried for a criminal act. In some states, this charge will be assault. In others, it will be vehicular assault. The result will also depend on the severity of the crime. Accidents usually carry a less severe penalty than intentional acts of violence.

Vehicular assault is defined differently by state but generally depends on the state of the driver and the bodily injury imposed. Any driver who has caused someone bodily injury by hitting them with their car while intoxicated, driving recklessly, or driving with a suspended or revoked license can be charged with vehicular assault.

Negligent drivers, or those enhancing the risk of an auto accident, can be charged with vehicular assault. Dangerous driving statistics show that drivers who eat while operating their vehicle are 80% more likely to be in an accident. Careless driving like excessive speeding or not exercising enough caution behind the wheel can land a driver with a vehicular assault charge if they cause someone bodily injury.

While some of these situations may be accidents, these negligent drivers may get a vehicular assault charge regardless.

Vehicular Assault Can Mean Criminal Charges

Vehicular assault can have similar consequences to that of driving while intoxicated. Driving under the influence and vehicular assault may both result in a driver having their license suspended or revoked, having their insurance premiums rise, and/or being charged with a misdemeanor. However, if you are charged with vehicular assault, you may serve prison time and have a felony on your record for intentionally hitting and injuring someone with your car.

Of the consequences, fines, citations, and a revoked or suspended license may be the best-case scenarios. The difference between a revoked license and a suspended license lies in the ability to earn the license back. A suspended license can be reinstated within days or weeks, whereas a revoked license may be ineligible for reinstatement indefinitely.

Some drivers who get their licenses revoked never get their license back and must rely on public transportation or procuring transportation from friends or family. Getting a suspended or revoked license reinstated can be a lengthy and challenging procedure.

Additionally, car insurance premiums and the cost of getting comprehensive coverage may increase due to any recorded road rage incidents. Instances of aggressive, careless, or vehicular assault charges will discourage car insurance companies from providing cheap estimates to offending drivers. These premiums can go up by large margins and leave drivers with a poor reputation on the road scrambling to get inexpensive car insurance. Incidents of any kind can make getting auto insurance after an accident expensive.

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Is hitting someone with an object assault?

Using an object to injure or hurt another person is considered battery. Battery differs from assault because assault can include emotional damages and causing fear. When someone is the victim of assault, they may have been threatened or harassed with ideas of violence from another person. Battery is the criminal charge of striking another person with fists or objects.

While hitting someone with an object is not considered assault, it is still a criminal charge that can land offenders in serious trouble. Battery, in most states, is a first-degree misdemeanor with a potential consequence of up to one year in jail.

Can you press charges for road rage?

There are no specific criminal charges for road rage. However, drivers who engage in road rage behaviors (acting recklessly or aggressively) can earn traffic violations, tickets, or injuries from physical altercations.

Road rage comes in many different forms, and some of those forms can be aggressive or violent:

  • The first form of road rage is verbal. This verbal onslaught can include foul language, name-calling, yelling out the window, or aggressive honking.
  • The second type of road rage consists of offensive hand gestures, throwing things, and dangerous and risky driving. This type of road rage can be aggressive and scary with tailgating and brake checking. In this second type of road rage, throwing objects can cause bodily injury or property damage. Throwing things out a window can lead to an assault or battery charge against the offending driver.
  • The third type of road rage includes sideswiping, ramming other vehicles, and pushing drivers off the road. These aggressive tactics can cause injury and property damage and may end in arrest.

Road rage behaviors are treated differently in each state. Local authorities are available for help. Reach out to local authorities or emergency services if you feel unsafe from another driver’s behavior on the road.

Vehicular Assault, Road Rage, and Assault Come With Hefty Penalties

Making split-second decisions on the road can be challenging, and often drivers find themselves running into unique and scary situations with other drivers. While difficult, it is vital to remember that hitting anyone with a car is a criminal charge in many states and can be classified as assault or battery in others. Anger may get the best of us at times, but using a car or any object will have ramifications beyond anything imaginable. When interacting with an aggressive driver, maintain a safe distance, if possible.

Safety is the number one priority of driving and may entail keeping calm and refraining from acting on instinct. Engaging in dangerous and emotionally reactive ways on the road can have you facing criminal charges, have the offending driver cause you bodily injury, have your license revoked or suspended, and/or see your insurance premiums surge.

If you feel unsafe on the road or think that someone else may have intentionally hit you with a car, contact your local authorities as soon as possible.