Is Brake Checking Illegal in Florida?

March 22, 2024
Jack Fine

Aggressive or reckless driving is a major issue on Florida’s streets and highways. Whether it’s on local roads or major highways, recklessness or road rage incidents are not uncommon. These drivers often resort to drastic measures to intimidate or endanger others sharing the road.

Aggressive driving is also a key area of focus in Florida’s 2021 Strategic Highway Safety Plan. This plan aims to crack down on aggressive driving by concentrating on areas where it happens most often. The goal is to make the roads safer by enforcing laws against aggressive driving behaviors.

Brake checking is common among aggressive motorists. This abrupt action can lead to collisions involving one or several vehicles. If you find yourself on the receiving end of a brake check by another driver in Florida, you may have the right to pursue compensation for your losses, either by filing an insurance claim or initiating a personal injury lawsuit.

What is Brake Checking?

Brake checking is when a driver slams on the brakes in front of another vehicle, often without any clear reason, aiming to intimidate or potentially cause a collision. This dangerous driving tactic, especially when done amidst moving traffic, could lead to severe, if not fatal, injuries for those involved.

The motives behind people brake checking can vary widely. However, the bottom line remains that it poses a significant risk not only to the driver being brake-checked but also to the one executing the maneuver, as they too are susceptible to being hit. Whether triggered by a feeling that another vehicle is too close, responding to being honked at, or any other triggers, brake checking is a dangerous practice that can result in extensive damage and harm to everyone on the road.

Who is Liable in an Accident if You Were Brake Checked

In the event of a rear-end collision, the trailing driver is often held responsible for the accident and any resulting harm. This principle stems from the expectation that a driver must maintain a safe braking distance to react promptly to sudden stops or obstacles on the road.

However, brake checking introduces a unique scenario. Imagine maintaining an acceptable distance when suddenly, another motorist accelerates in front of you and abruptly brakes; avoiding a collision may become impossible.

When a driver deliberately and hazardously brake checks another, resulting in a crash, they may be deemed responsible for the ensuing accident and any related injuries. These incidents can also set off a domino effect, causing subsequent vehicles to collide with each other, further complicating the issue of liability for the crash and the resultant damages.

It’s important to note that Florida operates under a modified comparative negligence system per Florida Statute 768.81 in which each party’s fault percentage is considered, and compensation is adjusted accordingly. However, if a party is more than 50% at fault, they will not be able to seek compensation recovery. 

How to Prove a Diver Was Brake Checking?

In rear-end collisions, the trailing driver is typically responsible, under the expectation that they should manage their vehicle competently and maintain an adequate gap from the car ahead.

Brake check scenarios, though, diverge from standard rear-end accidents, as the lead driver’s abrupt braking can cause a situation where the rear driver has insufficient time to react and prevent a collision.

To demonstrate liability in brake check cases within Florida, the following evidence can be essential:

  • Dash Cam and Surveillance Footage: Video evidence is instrumental in showcasing that a brake check occurred, capturing the sudden braking action of the vehicle in front.
  • Police Reports: A police report can offer insights into the circumstances surrounding the accident, including the speeds at which the vehicles were traveling and the braking patterns of each party involved.
  • Witness Testimonies: Statements from bystanders or other drivers who witnessed the incident can bolster your account, affirming that the vehicle ahead braked sharply and without apparent cause.
  • Black Box (Event Data Recorder) Data: Many modern vehicles are equipped with a “black box” or Event Data Recorder (EDR) that captures data about the vehicle’s speed, brake application, and other critical information within five seconds leading up to a collision. This data can be used in proving a brake check by demonstrating the lead vehicle’s sudden deceleration and the trailing vehicle’s response.

Gathering this evidence can significantly aid in establishing the sequence of events leading to the collision and determining fault in the complex dynamics of a brake check accident.

What to Do if You Were Brake Checked

Being brake checked on the road can lead to a confusing and potentially dangerous situation. If you find yourself in this predicament, it’s important to know the steps to take to protect yourself legally and medically. Here are the actions you should consider:

Call Insurance

Immediately after the incident, contact your insurance company to report the accident. Provide them with all the details of the event, including the fact that you were brake checked. This initial report is crucial as it sets the stage for any claims you might need to file. Your insurance provider will guide you on the necessary documentation needed and the next steps to follow, which may include filing a claim for damages to your vehicle or personal injury.

Seek Medical Attention

Even if you feel fine, it’s important to get checked by a medical professional. Some injuries, especially those related to whiplash or concussions, might not be immediately apparent. Seeking medical attention promptly not only ensures your health and safety but also creates a medical record that can be essential if you need to pursue compensation for injuries resulting from the accident.

Document the Accident and Obtain Statements

Documenting everything about the accident is essential. Take pictures of the scene, your vehicle, the other vehicle, and any visible injuries you may have sustained. If there are witnesses, get their contact information and statements. Their accounts of the incident can be invaluable in proving your case, especially if the other driver denies brake checking or claims you were following too closely.

Get a Police Report

It’s important to involve law enforcement at the scene of the accident. A police report provides an official record of the incident, including the officer’s observations and any citations issued. The report will also include statements from both drivers and any witnesses, which can be pivotal in determining fault and liability. Ensure you obtain a copy of this report as it will be a critical piece of evidence for insurance claims or legal actions.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

At Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano, P.A., our team of skilled car accident lawyers has a history of achieving favorable outcomes for Gainesville residents affected by motor vehicle accidents. We offer a complimentary initial consultation, ensuring you can explore your legal options without any financial pressure. 

Suffering an injury in an accident can be overwhelming, leaving you to navigate through recovery, legal complexities, and insurance claims. Allow our experienced legal team to take on the burden of dealing with attorneys and insurance firms, allowing you to concentrate on your recovery. Reach out to us for a free, no-commitment consultation to discuss your case today.


Speed and Aggressive Driving | FDOT

768.81 Comparative fault | The Florida Legislature