Driver in viral Chattanooga road rage incident sentenced to 7 days in jail

Staff Photo / Michael Harvey, the man seen in a viral 2022 video screaming and threatening a woman after she allegedly cut him off, appears at court in November 2022. Harvey was sentenced Monday to seven days in jail.
Staff Photo / Michael Harvey, the man seen in a viral 2022 video screaming and threatening a woman after she allegedly cut him off, appears at court in November 2022. Harvey was sentenced Monday to seven days in jail.

A driver in a 2022 Chattanooga road rage incident that went viral was sentenced Monday to seven days in jail after testifying that the conditions of Hamilton County Jail have forever changed his outlook on life.

"I wouldn't put it (incarceration) on someone I hated," Michael Harvey said. "You either laugh or cry."

Harvey, 45, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor assault charges and one count of misdemeanor vandalism as part of an agreement with state prosecutors. He was initially charged with assault, vandalism and disorderly conduct.

He received credit for time served, which amounted to about seven days, so he will be released soon. Harvey already completed anger management and is expected to pay the victims about $850 in restitution for the damage to their vehicle.

Harvey's stint in a "nasty jail ... disgusting in all aspects" and being responsible for a road rage incident made his life much harder than it already was, he said in court.

During his seven days in jail, he did not sleep because the lights are always on, Harvey said. He allegedly had his prescriptions to treat Crohn's disease, depression and anxiety medication withheld. He lost his wife, he said, and compared his experience to being caged in a zoo.

(READ MORE: Driver in viral Chattanooga road rage incident pleads guilty)

(READ MORE: Driver in viral Chattanooga road rage incident pleads guilty)

During the summer of 2022, Harvey followed a woman who cut him off while merging on U.S. Highway 27. He walked up to the woman's parked vehicle, slammed on the door and ripped off the door handle.

He threatened to beat up the woman, pointed his finger in the shape of a gun and said he knew where she lived all while her son was seated in the car.

Harvey stood up and apologized to the victims, who were in the courtroom Monday, on two occasions.

For whatever reason, Harvey lost his mind that day, Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Boyd Patterson said at the sentencing hearing. Harvey previously lived an uneventful life in terms of his criminal history.

Patterson considered a harsher sentence due to a need in the community to incarcerate those responsible for road rage incidents, he said.

State prosecutors said Harvey seemed changed by his short time in jail and did not recommend a sentence.

(READ MORE: Man arrested after road rage incident in Chattanooga has first day in court)

Tennessee is one of the worst in the nation for people getting shot or getting violent during road rage incidents, Patterson said. People across Hamilton County and the state are doing that, and many of them are not typically involved in criminal lifestyles, the judge said.

As of 2022, the five states with the highest rate of people shot in road rage incidents are Tennessee, New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma and Wisconsin, according to Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, the largest gun violence prevention organization in America.

"Taking two breaths could change everything," Patterson said. "You see how impulsive violent crime is sometimes."

Contact Sofia Saric at ssaric@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476.

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