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A Moment of Road Rage Could Result in Criminal Charges in California

In California, incidents of road rage can result in the suspension of a driver's license as well as a variety of criminal offenses. Some such charges include reckless driving, battery, assault with a deadly weapon, assault, and criminal threats. Keep reading to learn more and contact Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055 if you are in need of a free legal consultation.

What constitutes road rage?

According to a general definition, "road rage" is when a motorist overreacts to what he or she perceives as a slight or provocation by another vehicle and decides to vent their ire and frustration in a careless, menacing, or aggressive way.

Potential penalties for road rage

What type of criminal penalties the irate motorist may face will mainly depend on how they show their wrath. For a case of road rage, there are four possible criminal charges:

  1. Reckless or aggressive driving. Driving a vehicle on a highway "with intentional or wanton disregard for the safety of individuals or property" is against California Vehicle Code 23103 VC. If a driver broke the law, the courts will consider factors like speeding, swerving, tailgating, or other displays. A driver convicted in Los Angeles under this law might be sentenced to up to $1,000 in penalties and up to 90 days in the county jail. If the reckless driving results in serious physical harm or death to someone other than the driver, the penalties may be increased.
  2. Assault. A motorist may be prosecuted with assault under Penal Code 240 PC if they make threats against or actually use force against another driver or pedestrian, and the other person had a reasonable belief that the act would immediately and probably result in the application of force to them. An assault conviction carries a maximum penalty of $1,000 in penalties and up to six months in prison.
  3. Assault with a deadly weapon. According to California law, an automobile is a "deadly weapon." In California, a driver could be charged with assault with a deadly weapon under Penal Code Section 245 if they engaged in driving behavior that might be construed as assault, such as when they purposefully accelerated toward a pedestrian as if they were about to strike him and then braked or swerved to avoid it. A felony or misdemeanor prosecution may be brought for assault with a lethal weapon. If convicted of a crime, you might spend up to four years in state prison. If the irate driver produced a weapon, they may additionally be charged with brandishing a weapon in accordance with Penal Code Section 417.
  4. Battery. Drivers who actually strike or physically harm another person out of road rage might be charged with battery under Penal Code 242 PC. A conviction for battery carries a maximum fine of $2,000 and/or a maximum sentence of six months in county prison. According to Penal Code Section 243(d), a battery that causes substantial physical harm constitutes a distinct crime and carries harsher punishments.

You can lose your license if you are guilty of road rage

According to 13210 CVC, the California DMV has the authority to suspend your driver's license if you exhibit road rage. Following an incident of road rage, the California DMV may suspend your driver's license for up to 1 year for a second offense, or up to 6 months for a first offense.

The DMV can revoke your license in one of two ways if you exhibit road rage. First, by determining that you lack the necessary driving abilities or second by labeling you an irresponsible driver. You can ask for an administrative hearing in any case to contest the license suspension.

You are entitled to legal representation from a criminal defense lawyer. We highly recommend that you contact Law Office of Michael L. Fell now at (949) 585-9055 for a free legal consultation to give you the best possible chance of getting out of this situation.