Four Ways “Road Rage” Can Get You Charged With a Crime in California

Posted by Neil Shouse | Aug 02, 2016 | 0 Comments

If you let your anger and frustration get the best of you while behind the wheel and you get into a “road rage” incident with another driver in Los Angeles, you may find yourself cooling off behind bars.

“Road rage” can get you charged with a number of possible crimes in Los Angeles. Broadly defined, “road rage” is when a driver overreacts to some perceived provocation or slight by another driver and chooses to express his or her anger and frustration in a reckless, threatening, or violent manner.

How exactly the enraged driver expresses his anger will largely determine what kind of criminal charges they may face. Four possible criminal charges for a Los Angeles road rage incident are:

  • Aggressive or reckless driving. California Vehicle Code 23103 VC makes it a crime to “drive a vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Courts will look at such things as speeding, swerving, tailgating or other displays to determine whether a driver violated the law. A driver convicted under this statute in L.A. can face up to $1,000 in fines and up to 90 days in Los Angeles County Jail. The penalties can be higher if the reckless driving caused bodily injury or great bodily injury to someone other than the driver.
  • Assault. If the angry driver threatens or attempts to apply force to another driver or pedestrian, and the other person reasonably believed that the acts of the driver would directly and probably result in the application of force to that person and the driver actually had the ability to do so, they could be charged with assault under Penal Code 240 PC. Assault is a misdemeanor that could result in up to six months in jail and $1,000 in fines upon conviction.
  • Assault with a deadly weapon. A car can be considered a “deadly weapon” under California law. If a driver used a car in a manner that could be considered assault – such as if the driver purposefully sped towards a pedestrian as if they were about to hit him and then stopped or swerved at the last minute, the driver could face assault with a deadly weapon in California under Penal Code Section 245. Assault with a deadly weapon can be charged either as a misdemeanor or felony. A felony conviction could result in up to four years in State Prison. If the angry driver pulled out a gun, he or she could also face charges for brandishing a firearm under Penal Code Section 417.
  • Battery. If their road rage actually results in the driver hitting or using force against someone else, they could face battery charges under Penal Code 242 PC. Consequences of a battery conviction include a fine of up to $2,000 and/or up to six months in county jail. Battery that A battery with serious bodily injury is a separate criminal offense (Penal Code Section 243(d)) with more severe penalties.

Note that under 13210 CVC, the DMV can suspend a person's driver's license for engaging in road rage.

If you have been charged with a crime relating to a road rage incident in Los Angeles, give our experienced and aggressive Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys a call to discuss your case. (For Nevada law, see our article, "Road Rage in Nevada Can Drive You Straight To Jail.")



About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.


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