Drive Smart, blog post by Robert J. Konopa, Partner & Civil Litigator at Tuesley Hall Konopa, LLPA year in jail and a $5,000 fine! They can’t be serious. I’m a good citizen. I work hard, pay taxes; I take care of my property, I’m a good Mom but they can put me in jail just for not slowing down or not obeying a speed sign or following that car ahead too closely or disregarding that flagman at a highway work site?!?!

OH, YES THEY CAN! 

Recklessly failing to obey highway work zone traffic controls is a Class A misdemeanor in Indiana. The punishment for a Class A misdemeanor is imprisonment for not more than 1 year and in addition up to a $5,000 fine. In fact, if your driving offense results in an injury to a worker at a roadway work site, or occurs while you are intoxicated, you may be guilty of a Level 6 felony or a Level 5 felony if your misconduct results in the death of a worker. In short, work zone motor vehicle operation violations can result in serious consequences.

What kind of driving misconduct will result in this kind of conviction? As mentioned above, recklessly failing to obey a traffic control device or flagman in the immediate vicinity of a highway work zone when workers are present will do the trick. Also, however, aggressive driving will suffice.

Aggressive driving is defined by legislation in Indiana as engaging in three or more of the following:

  1. Following a vehicle too closely;
  2. Unsafe operation of a vehicle i.e., slowing down, stopping, turning or changing lanes when doing so creates an unreasonably unsafe condition;
  3. Overtaking another vehicle on the right by driving off the roadway;
  4. Stopping or slowing in an unsafe manner without an appropriate signal;
  5. Unnecessarily sounding your horn;
  6. Failing to yield;
  7. Failing to obey a traffic control device or flagman;
  8. Driving at an unsafe speed; or
  9. Repeatedly flashing the vehicle’s headlights.

Lest you think work site driving violations won’t be enforced, be aware that as of January 1, 2015, the Indiana State Highway Department is authorized by statute to engage the services of off duty police officers (either state or local) to patrol highway work sites and enforce law.

Virtually, all states have laws increasing penalties for traffic violations while in a highway work zone. Indiana, however, appears to be more stringent and serious in its regulation and enforcement of work zone traffic movement and restrictions than most other states. Yet, every state abutting Indiana has penalties for work zone violations, according to information compiled by the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Kentucky: has no aggressive driving law but does double the original fine for speeding in a work zone whether there are workers present or not. Sobriety checkpoints are also conducted on a regular basis.

Michigan:  has no aggressive driving law either but all moving violations in a work zone, whether workers are present or not, doubles the original fine and creates at least 3 points on your license.

Ohio: no aggressive driving law but if speeding in a work zone during hours of actual work, the fine is doubled. Sobriety checkpoints are also conducted year round.

Illinois: again no aggressive driving statute but speeding in a work zone whether workers are present or not results in a $375 fine for a 1st offense and a $1,000 fine for each subsequent offense. Several hundred sobriety checkpoints are conducted annually.

Considering the repercussions, is it worthwhile to ignore a speed restriction sign at a highway worksite or drive aggressively just to get home from work, arrive at your child’s residence, or get to the ball park a few minutes earlier? DRIVE SMART!  Constantly and consistently adhere to traffic control signs and always obey directions from flagmen and flagwomen – especially when proceeding through highway worksites!

Disclaimer: The THK Legal Blogs are for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. In no case does the published material constitute an exhaustive legal study, and applicability to a particular situation depends upon investigation of specific facts. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.