What is Road Rage?
Road Rage is aggressive or violent behavior that occurs between drivers
on a roadway (city streets and highways). Road Rage may start off with
rude gestures including yelling, insults, threats, tailgating, speeding,
hand and facial gestures and quickly escalate to conduct that injures
or threatens to injure, kill or harm another individual. Road Rage is
not a specific crime but rather encompasses numerous different crimes.
The term "Road Rage" most likely originated in Los Angeles, California
during the late 1980s when some frustrated motorists started shooting
at each other on the Los Angeles freeways. Road Rage takes many forms
– from yelling obscenities to murder. Road Rage fueled crimes are
usually committed in anger as punishment to a bad driver. Road Rage can
lead to significant penalties, including steep fines, jail time and a
permanent criminal record.
Is Road Rage a Crime in California?
Although there is no actual crime called "Road Rage" in California,
it is one of the few states that specifically mention Road Rage in its
laws. According to California Vehicle Code section 13210, if a person
uses a car to injure another person who is in a car, on a bicycle or walking
on a highway, in addition to the penalties set forth in Penal Code section
245(a) (Assault with a Deadly Weapon – the weapon being the car)
the court may order the suspension of the defendant's driver's
license. The first road rage incident can result in a six-month suspension.
It is one year for a second or subsequent offense. In addition to, or
instead of the suspension, the court can order a person convicted for
road rage to complete a court-approved anger management or "Road
California Road Rage Crimes
Road Rage can lead to a number of criminal offenses, both misdemeanors
and felonies, which can result in a county jail or state prison sentence,
hefty fines, and worst of all a permanent criminal record. While Road
Rage isn't a crime, there are several crimes that typically arise
from Road Rage incidents, depending on the circumstances:
Assault (California Penal Code 240) -
Assault or Simple Assault is an illegal attempt, coupled with a present ability,
to commit violent injury against another. Example: one driver threatens
to run another driver into oncoming traffic. The defendant does not have
to touch the victim to be charged with assault. Assault penalties include:
incarceration in the county jail for up to six months, fines, probation,
and anger management classes.
Assault with a Deadly Weapon (ADW) / Aggravated Assault [California Penal Code 245(a)(1)] - When a car is used as a weapon it can
be charged as
Assault with a Deadly Weapon. Example: a driver runs a biker down. ADW can be charged as either a misdemeanor
or felony. Punishment ranges from minor fines, community service and county
jail time to incarceration in the state prison for four years, a $10,000
fine and a "Strike." The punishment can be increased by several
years if the victim had severe or great bodily injury.
Battery (California Penal Code 242) -
Battery is an unlawful use of force or violence against another person. Example:
a driver gets out of his car and punches another driver at a stop sign.
However, the victim does not have to sustain an injury as a result of
the battery. Misdemeanor Battery penalties are similar to those of misdemeanor Assault.
Brandishing a Firearm (California Penal Code 417) - Showing or drawing a firearm in an angry,
rude or threatening manner or during a fight is "brandishing"
a firearm. Example: the driver pulls up alongside the other driver and
shows a gun, pointing it at the sky. Brandishing a firearm can be charged
as either a misdemeanor or felony, and is punishable by up to a year in
county jail or up to three years in state prison.
Criminal Threats (California Penal Code 422) - Criminal Threats can be charged if a driver
threatens another with violence, harm, injury or death with the intent
of intimidating or frightening the victim. Example: a driver pulls up
alongside the other car and threatens to kill the other driver at the
next stop sign. Criminal Threats can be charged as either a misdemeanor
or felony and is punishable by county jail or state prison.
Hit and Run (California Vehicle Code 20001, 20001a, 20002, and 20002a) - A Hit and
Run is damaging property or injuring someone in a car collision and leaving
the scene without exchanging information or helping someone who is injured.
Example: a driver rams the back of another driver's car and drives
away. If the damage is to property, the hit and run is charged as a
misdemeanor and can result in jail time and a fine of up to $1,000. If a person is
injured, a Hit and Run can be charged as either a misdemeanor or
felony depending on the severity of injuries. Penalties for a Hit and Run vary:
up to six months in county jail for simple Hit and Run (with no injuries)
to a state prison commitment for felony Hit and Run cases where there
is injury. Felony offenses can result in up to four years in state prison
and up to $10,000 in fines.
Reckless Driving (California Vehicle Code 23103, 23104) - Driving a car with disregard
for the safety of people or property is reckless driving. Example: speeding
over 100 miles per hour, tailgating, intentional swerving. If the driver
causes no injuries, it is a misdemeanor. If the reckless driving injures
someone, the driver may be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by 90
to 180 days in county jail or as a felony punishable by up to three years
in state prison.
Vandalism (California Penal Code section 594) - It is a crime to damage or destroy
someone else's property. Example: You exit your car and approach another
driver and kick the driver's door or key the car. The penalties for
vandalism will depend on the dollar value of the property damaged or destroyed.
If the damage is less than $400, it will be charged as a misdemeanor punishable
by up to six months in county jail. If the damage exceeds $400 then the
crime can be prosecuted as a felony punishable by up to three years in
Any of the crimes charged in a Road Rage case have very specific criminal
elements that require the prosecution to prove every element of a charged
crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Because both drivers are acting in anger
in many Road Rage cases, various defenses may be available, such as self-defense
(for example, the defendant shot the other driver because he was threatening
to kill the defendant.)
The Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at Stephen G. Rodriguez &
Partners meticulously comb through the facts in Road Rage cases. We aggressively
expose weaknesses and inaccuracies in the prosecution's case, while
building the best defense possible for our client. Exposing any weaknesses
in the prosecution's case helps us get the case dismissed or the charges reduced.
Los Angeles Road Rage Defense Attorneys
If you are facing criminal charges related to a Road Rage incident, you
need aggressive and hard-working Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys
in your corner. At Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners, we understand
the dynamics of how a simple traffic issue can turn into a serious Road
for a no-cost consultation and learn what legal options are available.