Road Rage is Deadly
Road rage often boils down to an accident or some kind of confrontation between drivers. These confrontations have a tendency to turn violent.
For example, if a driver “cuts off” or quickly maneuvers into another driver’s lane, the driver who was cut off may follow the other driver closely to a stop, then get out of his car and proceed to punch the other driver’s window and strangle him.
Los Angeles was ranked the #1 city in road rage incidents in America.
Contrary to most people’s belief, road rage isn’t usually associated with alcohol or drug related driving. More times than not, the driver is a sober male driving so recklessly that he causes an accident. In the most extreme cases, in an example of true road rage, he will “hunt another driver down” and then deliberately attempt to cause injuries to the other driver.
Aggressive driving is unfortunately contagious – many drivers respond to aggression with aggression, and this not only endangers the drivers involved, but also every other motorist around them. Sadly in many cases, it’s the completely innocent people that just happen to be in the wrong place that end up injured.
What is Considered Road Rage?
Road rage means that someone deliberately tried to harm you as a result of something that happened while you were driving your car. Road Rage is the most serious form of aggressive driving and is much more likely to result in road traffic accidents, criminal acts against others, injuries, and possible fatalities.
The following actions are generally considered acts of road rage:
- Sudden acceleration followed by “brake checking”;
- Close tailgating;
- Cutting off another driver in a lane;
- Deliberately preventing another driver from merging into a lane;
- Sound a vehicle’s horns or flashing lights excessively;
- Rude gestures;
- Shouting verbal abuse, threats, and even spitting at another driver;
- Intentionally causing a collision between vehicles;
- Running another driver off the road;
- Swerving to prevent passing or to threaten another driver;
- Exiting the vehicle to attempt to start a confrontation;
- Striking another vehicle with an object;
- Threatening to use, using, or brandishing a firearm or other deadly weapon.
Of course there are countless more possibilities, but these are the most common.
It’s always safest to drive defensively and refrain from retaliating against other drivers who may frustrate you. Even if someone is driving recklessly, do not assume that you can “teach them a lesson.” Instead, do your best to avoid the reckless driver.
Possible Criminal Charges for Road Rage Crimes in California
The law in California does not recognize “road rage” specifically as a crime in-and-of itself, but California is one of the few states that specifically has added sections to combat the growing number of road rage incidents. It can certainly lead to these criminal acts:
- Assault with a Deadly Weapon (CA PC Section 245(a)(1))
Assault with a Deadly Weapon is a wobbler and can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony in California. A felony carries a maximum sentence of 4 years in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. A misdemeanor conviction is punishable by 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. Assault with deadly weapon could also count as one strike under California’s Three Strikes Law.
- Assault (CA PC Section 240)
This crime is a misdemeanor, and can be punished by up to 6 months in county jail and fines up to $1,000.
- Battery (CA PC Section 242)
This crime is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for up to 6 months and a maximum fine of $2,000. However, if the victim sustained a serious bodily injury, the sentence can be increased to a maximum of 4 years in county jail.
- Hit and Run (California Vehicle Code Sections 20001 and 20002)
Hit-and-run resulting in injury or death is a wobbler. If the hit-and-run victim is seriously or permanently injured, or even worse the victim dies, a conviction can result in 90 days in county jail to 4 years in state prison. Fines can range between $1,000 and $10,000. Hit-and-run resulting in property damage is a lesser offense as a misdemeanor, and is punishable of up to 6 months in county jail and a $1,000 fine.
- Reckless Driving (California Vehicle Code Sections 23103 and 23104)
If you drive recklessly and it does not result in any injuries, you can be charged with a misdemeanor and sentenced to 90 days in county jail, and fined between $145 and $1,000. If your actions cause an injury to a victim, the sentence can be increased by up to 6 months in county jail. Previous convictions for reckless driving or DUI can also increase your sentence.
- Criminal Threats (CA PC Section 422)
You may face up to 1 year in county jail on a misdemeanor conviction, and up to 4 years in state prison on a felony conviction. Additionally, use of a deadly weapon (this may even include your car) could add another year to the sentence. Note: a felony conviction counts as 1 strike under California’s Three Strikes Law.
- Vandalism (CA PC Section 594)
If the damage is less than $400, it will be charged as a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in county jail. If the damage exceeds $400 then the crime can be prosecuted as a felony punishable by up to 3 years in state prison.
If the incident results in severe bodily harm or death, extra charges can be added including manslaughter or mayhem.
Avoid Being a Victim
Since you never know the mental state of other drivers and their anger levels, you’re better off not engaging them in any way. Keep in mind the following safety tips to avoid becoming a victim of road rage:
- Remember that you don’t know the other drivers on the road and what they’re capable of.
- Keep all car doors locked and windows closed or only partially open.
- Avoid provoking other drivers by making eye contact, rude gestures or flashing your lights.
- Don’t ever get out of your car and approach the other driver.
- If you think someone may be following you, call the police and drive to the nearest police station or crowded public place.
- Avoid driving very close to the car in front of you, or “tailgating”.
We’re Here to Help
Did the police arrest you for crimes associated with Road Rage? We cannot stress enough the importance of consulting and retaining a lawyer to protect your rights, privacy and future. We’re here to help.
Need a Criminal Defense Attorney? CALL NOW: 310-274-6529
Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Criminal Defense Attorney who has over 17 years of practice defending a variety of criminal cases.