Road Rage is can be a fairly common occurrence in Singapore, perhaps due to the large populace, and city environment, which can make driving all the more stressful. In January of 2017, an online interview by Channel NewsAsia revealed that out of the 800 respondents questioned, a majority had voted reckless driving as one of the main causes of irritation when driving on the road.
In this article we run through the legal perspective around road rage, and potential steps that you might wish to consider if you are a victim of such rage.
What laws exist around road rage in Singapore?
In reality, there is no specific law in relation to road rage. The law focuses more on the actions that may occur as a result of a confrontation, which could have been brought on by an act of ‘rage’. There are several offenses that either alone, or together could be punishable.
a) Voluntarily causing hurt (VCH)
VCH can be understood as an act where someone has the intention to and causes bodily pain, disease or sickness to someone. For example, if you were to knowingly punch someone in the face, you would have committed an act of VCH. Anyone who causes VCH shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years, or with fine which may extend to $5,000, or with both.
b) Voluntarily causing grievous hurt (VCGH)
VCGH, on the other hand, is not the same as VCH. The difference between the two offences is that grievous hurt is a more severe kind of hurt. Anything from a bone fracture, permanent loss of a body organ, or permanent disfiguration of the head or face can be considered as VCGH. Let’s say you banged into another car on the road and the driver comes out of his car in displeasure and begins punching you. If you were to go to a doctor and they discover that you sustained a fractured arm from the incident, for example, the driver would have committed an act of VCGH. Anyone who causes VCGH shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine or for caning.
c) VCH by dangerous means or with dangerous weapons
VCH by dangerous means would simply mean to cause hurt onto someone by use of a weapon or dangerous methods. Normal everyday items as a knife or scissors to name a few can be classified as a dangerous weapon if it were to be used to hurt someone. Even letting out a dangerous animal would be considered as VCH by dangerous means. If found guilty of VCH by dangerous weapons or dangerous means, the punishment is imprisonment of up to 7 years and shall also be liable to a fine and/or a caning.
Affray is when 2 or more person disturbs the public peace by fighting in a public place such as on the road or sidewalk. In PP v Soh Beng Chuan, the accused was sentenced to 2 weeks imprisonment for wounding a fellow road user when the latter unknowingly turned into a one-way road. The two parties eventually got out of their vehicles and began exchanging blows. As such anyone who commits a crime of affray shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to $5,000, or with both.
What can I do as a victim of road rage?
You should inform the police of your situation. Offences such as VCGH, VCH by dangerous means or dangerous weapons, and affray, are arrestable offences. What this means is that a police officer can arrest the person in question without a warrant. These kinds of cases will almost certainly be pursued and the offender will be charged in a Court of Law.
That said, VCH is a non-arrestable offence. An arrest cannot be made without a warrant. As such, you must first make a police report of the incident, together with any medical reports of the injury that you may have received from the incident. You can then submit a Magistrate’s Complaint, together with a copy of your police report to the Complaints Counter of the Crime Registry. The Magistrate will then decide whether to issue a warrant for the perpetrator’s arrest and pursue the matter.
How can IRB help?
If you are a victim of any of the above and wish to seek legal advice, please feel free to get in touch for a no obligation discussion. We have a team of experienced criminal litigation lawyers who can guide you through your options.