Vehicle Code 13210 CVC is the California statute that enables the DMV to suspend a motorist’s driver’s license for engaging in road rage behaviors. The section 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 a motorist shows 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 a motorist driving dangerously towards another driver to intimidate him/her.
Note that a person can challenge the DMV’s decision to suspend a license for road rage. The driver can do so at either:
- an administrative hearing to show the motorist has 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 a 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 a driver’s license for road rage?
The DMV can suspend a motorist’s 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 a license in one of two ways. The first is by:
- finding that the driver lacks the skill to drive, and then
- send the motorist an “Order of Suspension.”
The second way is by:
- declaring the person to be a negligent operator, and
- send the motorist an “Order of Suspension.”
Drivers are declared a “negligent operator” if they accumulate a certain number of “points” on their driving record.
A motorist will receive points on his DMV record for such things like:
- moving violations, or
- criminal driving offenses.
The DMV can do the following if a person earns enough points within a 1-, 2- or 3-year period:
- declare him a negligent operator, and
- suspend, or even, revoke, his driving privileges.
2. Can a 13210 CVC suspension be challenged?
A driver can challenge a DMV decision to suspend his/her license for road rage.
If the DMV determined that the driver lacks the skill to drive, then:
- the motorist can ask for an administrative hearing, and
- try to prove that he/she does 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 the driver is a negligent operator, then:
- the motorist can ask for a negligent operator hearing, and
- show that his 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.
- the motorist gets placed on negligent operator probation. This means a suspension does not go into effect. It will though if the driver commits a violation or an accident.
- the driver gets a suspension but is granted a restricted license.
- a 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.
A person commits this offense when he or she drives 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 a perpetrator attempts to:
- injure another person, and
- tries 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 for a person to:
- commit the unlawful killing of a human being, and
- do so with malice aforethought.
“Malice aforethought” means the killer:
- acts with wanton disregard for human life, or
- does an act that involves a high degree of probability that it will result in death.
There are road rage cases where a driver does act with malice aforethought and ends 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.