Merriam-Webster defines “road rage” as “a motorist’s uncontrolled anger that is usually provoked by another motorist’s irritating act and is expressed in aggressive or violent behavior.” California does not specifically identify “road rage” as a crime in its body of criminal statutes but it does specifically mention road rage in California Vehicle Code § 13210 VC. This California statute describes circumstances under which a motorist may have his or her license suspended in California for acts of road rage. However, engaging in an act of road rage may result in the filing of charges under other California criminal statutes.
While not a criminal charge, the suspension of a driver’s license is a significant consequence of road rage. As mentioned, a California court may order the suspension of the driving privilege of any operator of a motor vehicle who commits an assault under California Penal Code § 245(a) on an operator or passenger of another motor vehicle, an operator of a bicycle, or a pedestrian and the offense occurs on a highway. A first road rage offense can result in a six-month suspension while a subsequent offense may result in a suspension of one year. In addition to, or in lieu of the suspension, a court may order a person to complete a court-approved anger management course.
California Vehicle Code § 23103 VC makes it a criminal offense to “drive a vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Whether a person was speeding, swerving, tailgating, or committing some other reckless act determines a driver’s culpability under this statute. When these actions result from road rage, a charge under § 23103 may be filed.
A charge of battery under California Penal Code § 242 PC may result when an act of road rage results in the driver using force against or striking someone else. A battery that results in serious bodily injury is a separate criminal offense with more severe penalties.
A charge of assault under California Penal Code § 240 PC may result when an act of road rage results in some use of force that does not physically strike the victim. If a driver threatens or attempts to apply force to another driver or pedestrian, he or she may be charged with assault under Penal Code 240 PC.
*Assault with a Deadly Weapon
A car may be considered a “deadly weapon” under California law. Therefore, an act of road rage may constitute “Assault with a Deadly Weapon” if a person attempts to use a motor vehicle to cause injury. A California court may order the suspension of the driving privilege of any operator of a motor vehicle who commits an assault under California Penal Code § 245(a) on an operator or passenger of another motor vehicle, an operator of a bicycle, or a pedestrian and the offense occurs on a highway.
John Patrick Dolan is a California State Bar Certified Specialist in Criminal Law, the highest achievement awarded by the State Bar of California to attorneys in the field of criminal law. The advice, guidance, and representation of experienced criminal defense counsel may be crucial to achieving the best possible result in any criminal matter. John Patrick Dolan has forty years of criminal defense experience. Contact Dolan Law Offices today at 760-775-3739 or 562-824-4007 to discuss your situation or find out more online here.