California Road Rage Law and Aggressive Driving Accidents
California is one of the worst states in the nation for road rage. In 2022, reports identified California as one of the three worst states for road rage, with only Florida and Texas seeing more road rage-related traffic incidents.
When drivers exhibit aggression or reckless behavior behind the wheel, the results are often deadly. At LA Century Law, we are well-versed in California road rage laws and the legal implications surrounding aggressive driving. We also have extensive experience helping people who have suffered injuries or lost loved ones in road rage incidents take legal action in the aftermath. Contact a car accident lawyer in San Bernardino to start your case against an aggressive driver.
What Is Road Rage?
“Road rage” occurs when a motorist exhibits angry or aggressive behavior toward another driver, and it is a growing problem on California’s and the nation’s roadways. Road rage takes on many different forms. However, it often manifests as screaming, making rude gestures, driving aggressively, or making threats of violence. Tailgating, laying on the car horn, bumping another vehicle from behind, or intentionally running a vehicle off of the road may also constitute instances of aggressive driving or road rage.
Other possible acts of road rage might include:
- Preventing a vehicle from changing lanes
- Getting out of the car to confront another motorist
- Driving on a sidewalk or in a median to get around a driver
Road rage and driver aggression are frequent contributors to crashes, with SafeMotorist noting that 66% of today’s traffic deaths involve aggressive driving. Of those incidents, about 37% involved a firearm, and the majority also involved male motorists who were under the age of 19.
Is Aggressive Driving a Criminal Offense?
After an incident with a reckless driver, many people ask – is aggressive driving a criminal offense? California does not consider aggressive driving, by itself, to be a criminal offense.
However, aggressive drivers may face criminal, as well as civil, charges if the injured party is able to prove that his or her injuries resulted from the other motorist’s aggressive or reckless behavior.
The same holds true when it comes to road rage. While California road rage laws do not exist, there are still certain circumstances under which road rage crashes may lead to criminal charges. Some of these charges might include assault, battery, or reckless driving charges, among other possible offenses. If a road rage incident leads to charges of assault or battery, the aggressive driver may face serious penalties, some of which might include hefty fines and potential time in jail or prison.
What Are California Road Rage Laws and Statutes?
While an aggressive or reckless driver will not face an actual “road rage” charge, he or she may face a charge of reckless driving after committing an act that is in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23103. This statute defines reckless driving under California law and asserts that it involves a “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property” on the roadway.
The penalties associated with driving aggressively may vary based on the severity of the offense. Whether a motorist has similar infractions on his or her record may also come into play.
However, motorists guilty of reckless driving may face serious criminal repercussions under California road rage laws. Typically, reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense that may lead to fines, probation requirements, and even potential jail time.
California Vehicle Code Section 13210 also addresses road rage. This provision gives the California Department of Motor Vehicles the right to suspend or revoke the driving privileges of motorists whom the state sees as a threat to public safety due to ongoing incidents of road rage or repeated traffic violations.
Can You Make a Claim Against a Driver for Aggressive Driving?
When someone suffers an injury in a wreck involving an aggressive driver, the injured party has the option of pursuing a civil claim against the responsible party. Authorities, too, may decide to take action against the aggressive driver by pursuing criminal charges that align with California road rage laws.
Motorists or passengers who suffer injuries in aggressive driving incidents also have the option of pursuing a personal injury claim against the driver whose actions caused the crash. This typically involves gathering comprehensive documentation about the incident and the injuries that resulted from it. Compiling medical records, witness statements, photos of the crash scene, and other relevant forms of evidence helps strengthen a personal injury case arising from allegations of aggressive driving.
It is important to note that statutes of limitations exist when it comes to pursuing a claim against an aggressive or reckless driver in California. In most cases, injured parties have two years from the date their injuries occurred to file a formal claim against the responsible driver. Failing to meet this deadline leaves crash victims without legal recourse.
Ready To Move Forward With a Car Accident Claim for Road Rage?
Ultimately, the strength of a case involving aggressive driving, reckless driving, or road rage depends on the injured party’s ability to prove that aggression factored into the incident – and that the other driver violated California road rage laws. Motorists who suffer injuries or lose loved ones in accidents involving driver aggression should contact our team at LA Century Law at [phone] to have our attorneys assess the strength of their case and determine if it has merit. Call today.