Facts about Road Rage Crimes in California
Posted on July 5, 2023
You are driving along peacefully in Ventura, CA when an aggressive driver suddenly starts tailgating you, honking relentlessly, and even making threatening gestures. This is not just an annoying encounter—it’s road rage, an increasingly common and dangerous phenomenon that can lead to serious accidents and injuries. In 2022, the Los Angeles Police Department recorded nearly 870 cases of road rage, marking the highest number in the past seven years in LA County.
What Constitutes Road Rage in Ventura, CA?
In simplest terms, road rage can be described as extreme, violent anger exhibited by a car driver. Any instance where aggression or anger manifests into dangerous behaviors on the road can be called road rage.
Road rage behaviors in Ventura, CA can include actions like:
- Excessive honking
- Verbal insults or obscene gestures
- Intentional cutting off
- Excessive speeding or racing
- Intentional brake checking
- Failure to yield
- Abrupt lane changes without signaling
- Displaying aggression through facial expressions or body language
- Physical confrontations or assaults
In other words, when driving frustration becomes vehicular aggression that endangers others, it is road rage.
In the context of California law, the definition becomes a bit more complex as the state doesn’t have a specific statute pertaining to “road rage.” Acts associated with road rage, like aggressive driving or assault with a deadly weapon, fall under various sections of the California Vehicle Code and the California Penal Code.
For example, if a driver intentionally threatens or injures you with their vehicle, they could be charged under Penal Code 245(a)(1) – assault with a deadly weapon. Also, aggressive behaviors like excessive speeding, tailgating, and unsafe lane changes could result in citations under the California Vehicle Code.
Road Rage Crimes, Penalties, and Defenses in California
Even though California law doesn’t specifically mention “road rage,” acting out in anger while driving can still land someone in hot water. It could mean losing their driver’s license and facing criminal charges for:
- Reckless driving
- Criminal threats
- Assault with a deadly weapon
As we mentioned earlier, road rage is when a driver reacts to something another driver does; this reaction could be threatening, reckless, or even violent. The charges the raging driver face will depend on how they showed their anger. There are four common types of charges:
Reckless or aggressive driving (Vehicle Code 23103)
This is when a driver uses the road without care for others’ safety. Speeding, swerving, or tailgating all count. The penalties can be up to $1,000 in fines and 90 days in county jail. If someone other than the driver gets hurt, there could be more severe penalties.
Battery (Penal Code 242 PC)
If a road rage incident ends with the angry driver hurting someone else, they could be charged with battery, which means a fine of up to $2,000, six months in jail, or both. If the victim is seriously injured, the charges and penalties can be even higher.
Assault (Penal Code 240 PC)
This happens when a driver threatens or tries to hurt another driver or pedestrian. If the other person thought the angry driver could and would hurt them, it is assault. This could mean up to six months in jail and $1,000 in fines.
Assault with a deadly weapon (Penal Code 245(a)(1))
A car or truck can be a “deadly weapon.” So if a driver threatens to hurt someone with their car (even if they don’t), they could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. A felony charge could result in four years in state prison. If a driver waves a gun around, they could also face extra charges.
In addition to these legal consequences, someone accused of California road rage incidents can also be charged with the following:
- Vehicle Code 13210 VC: This could lead to driver’s license suspension
- Vehicle Code 23152 VC: If the driver were under the influence, they could face DUI charges
- Penal Code 243(d): This is for cases of aggravated battery
- Penal Code 417 PC: This is for brandishing a weapon
- Penal Code 12022.53 PC: If someone used a gun, they might face charges under this enhancement law
- Penal Code 664: This is for attempted murder
- Penal Code 187 PC: This covers murder
Frequently Asked Questions About Road Rage in California
Can I sue if I am the victim of road rage?
Yes, you can. In California, if you have suffered any injuries or property damage because of someone else’s reckless behavior on the road, you can sue for damages such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Is road rage a criminal offense in California?
California doesn’t have a specific ‘road rage’ offense, but actions such as reckless driving, assault, or even attempted murder can lead to road rage criminal charges.
Does a road rage conviction go on a criminal record?
Yes. A crime stemming from a road rage incident becomes part of someone’s criminal record.
What is the difference between aggressive driving and road rage?
Not all incidents of aggressive or reckless driving are considered road rage. Aggressive driving refers to dangerous behaviors that disregard the safety of others, like running red lights or stop signs, not signaling, or speeding. These are considered traffic offenses and can lead to fines, license points, or other penalties.
Road rage is a more extreme form of aggressive driving where the driver’s actions are intentionally dangerous and threatening, with an intention to cause harm. This can mean hitting another vehicle on purpose, running a car off the road, or getting out of the vehicle to physically confront the other driver.
Get Legal Representation from Experienced Ventura, CA Attorneys
Road rage is a dangerous and unacceptable behavior. If you or someone you love has been a victim of a road rage incident in Ventura, CA, our attorneys at the King Law Firm can offer you strong legal representation. Our proven and capable personal injury lawyer will help you file a civil claim, establish evidence and prove the liability of the at-fault party, and pursue maximum financial damages on your behalf.