California Vehicle Code 13210 CVC allows the DMV to suspend your driver’s license for engaging in road rage behaviors. The law states that “the suspension period…[for] ‘road rage’ shall be six months for a first offense and one year for a second or subsequent offense.”
Road rage is when you show aggressive or angry behavior towards other drivers or pedestrians. This behavior can include giving rude gestures, verbal insults, and physical threats. It can also include driving dangerously towards another driver to intimidate them.
Note that you can challenge the DMV’s decision to suspend your license for road rage. You can do so at either:
- an administrative hearing to show you have the skill to drive, or
- a negligent operator hearing.
In addition to a license suspension, road rage can lead to the commission of serious crimes. Some examples are:
- reckless driving, per Vehicle Code 23103 VC,
- assault with a deadly weapon, per Penal Code 245a1 PC, and
- murder, per Penal Code 187 PC.
Our California criminal defense attorneys will highlight the following in this article:
- 1. Can the DMV suspend my driver’s license for road rage?
- 2. Can a 13210 CVC suspension be challenged?
- 3. Is road rage a criminal offense in California?
1. Can the DMV suspend my driver’s license for road rage?
The DMV can suspend your driver’s license for road rage, per 13210 CVC.
This suspension can be for:
- up to six months (for a first offense), or
- up to one year (for a second or subsequent offense).1
The DMV can decide to suspend your license in one of two ways. The first is by:
- finding that you lack the skill to drive, and then
- send you an “Order of Suspension.”
The second way is by:
- declaring you to be a negligent operator, and
- send you an “Order of Suspension.”
You are declared a “negligent operator” if you accumulate a certain number of “points” on your driving record.
You will receive points on your DMV record for such things like:
- moving violations, or
- criminal driving offenses.
The DMV can do the following if you earn enough points within a 1-, 2- or 3-year period:
- declare you a negligent operator, and
- suspend, or even, revoke, your driving privileges.
2. Can a 13210 CVC suspension be challenged?
You can challenge a DMV decision to suspend your license for road rage.
If the DMV determined that you lack the skill to drive, then:
- you can ask for an administrative hearing, and
- try to prove that you do have the skill to drive.
If the DMV agrees, it will cancel any suspension. Note that this is referred to as the DMV’s re-examination process.
If the DMV determined that you are a negligent operator, then:
- you can ask for a negligent operator hearing, and
- you can show that your driving privileges should not be suspended or revoked.
A hearing officer may decide any of the following after a hearing:
- a license suspension gets set aside.
- you get placed on negligent operator probation. This means a suspension does not go into effect. It will though if you commit a violation or an accident.
- you get a suspension but are granted a restricted license.
- your license gets suspended.
Note that a negligent operator hearing is part of the Negligent Operator Treatment System.
3. Is road rage a criminal offense in California?
It can be. Depending on the facts of a case, road rage in California can lead to criminal charges for reckless driving (VC 23103), assault with a deadly weapon (PC 245a1), and even murder (PC 187).
3.1. Reckless driving – VC 23103
Vehicle Code 23103 VC is the California statute that defines the crime of reckless driving.
You commit this offense when you drive with a wanton disregard for:
- the safety of other people, or
- the safety of someone’s property.
Experiencing road rage and driving irrationally can equate to driving with wanton disregard for safety.
Reckless driving is a misdemeanor that carries up to 90 days in jail.
3.2. Assault with a deadly weapon – PC 245a1
Penal Code 245a1 PC is the California statute that defines “assault with a deadly weapon.”
This crime occurs whenever you attempt to:
- injure another person, and
- try to do this with either a deadly weapon or force likely to cause great bodily injury.
As to road rage, a California court has found that:
- a car can be a “deadly weapon,” when
- the vehicle is used in an attempt to run someone down.2
3.3. Murder – PC 187
Penal Code 187 PC is the California statute that defines the crime of “murder.”
This section makes it a crime to:
- commit the unlawful killing of a human being, and
- do so with malice aforethought.
“Malice aforethought” means you:
- act with wanton disregard for human life, or
- do an act that involves a high degree of probability that it will result in death.
There are road rage cases where you do act with malice aforethought and end up killing someone.
For additional help…
For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.
For similar crimes in Nevada, please see our article on: “Nevada’s Road Rage Laws.”
- California Vehicle Code 13210 CVC.
- People v. Aguilar (1997) 16 Cal.4th 1023.