Road rage in CA can result in criminal charges ranging from reckless driving to assault with a deadly weapon (ADW). On our busy urban freeways in areas like Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and the Inland Empire, getting cut off or flipped off while driving on the freeway can quickly escalate into a major incident between two drivers.
In a recent “instant Karma” video, a man who was tailgating a women on a freeway, gives the woman “the bird”, loses control of his car and proceeds to crash on the highway (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/03/driver-explains-how-road-rage-led-to-instant-karma-video/ ). This accident is indicative of today’s society which is packed with stressed out drivers on the highway trying to get to and from work or to other places while fighting annoying traffic. Perhaps nowhere do people deal with issues of road rage and reckless driving more than in California especially, Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange and San Diego counties. As with communicating on the internet, many people feel cavalier when driving their car and believe that there actions will not result in criminal conduct. However, as explained below, road rage and related incidents in California can lead to criminal arrests for serious criminal charges where one will have to consult with a criminal defense attorney to avoid jail, prison or a felony conviction.
Reckless Driving in California
California Vehicle Code section 23103 provides in pertinent part:
“(a) A person who drives a vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.
(b) A person who drives a vehicle in an offstreet parking facility, as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 12500, in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.”
The term “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property” could include driving at a high speed and crash into a parked car to tailgating someone at a very high speed while incessantly honking your horn while making obscene gestures. The latter example is see on the road of the Los Angeles freeways daily where drivers take out their frustrations on other drivers and in the process disregard the safety of other drivers on the road. In addition, if a person is excessively speeding well over the speed limit they can be exposed to an arrest for reckless driving.
An arrest for reckless driving is more than just your average driving violation that can be erased from your record with a trip to traffic school. To the contrary, a conviction for reckless driving is a misdemeanor where a person can be exposed to a sentence of up to 90 days in county jail and a fine of up to $1000.00 with penalty assessments making the fine closer to $3000.00. Moreover, such a conviction, will lead to point assessments from the DMV which can affect a person’s driving privileges. It is important when arrested for reckless driving to immediately consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to assess the possible defenses one may have to these often penalizing misdemeanor charges.
Assault with A Deadly Weapon
California Penal Code section 245(a)(1), a felony in California, provides that a person may be convicted of assault with a deadly weapon when they “commit[s] an assault upon the person of another with a deadly weapon or instrument other than a firearm or by any means of force likely to produce great bodily injury.”
An “ADW” conviction can occur when a person assaults another with a motor vehicle along with the more common types of weapons such as a gun or a knife as well as a person’s fists. In the context of an assault with a car, many persons have been arrested in road rage incidents when they intentionally try and hit another vehicle or person with their car or even try to scare another person on the road by directing their car at another car or person in a manner intended to make the other in fear of being hit by the car. In such a situation, even if there is no contact between cars or injury to another there still may be an assault where another driver uses their car to scare another which is using your vehicle by means of force that is likely to cause great bodily injury.
The need for retaining an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney when faced with criminal charges related to road rage:
If you are involved in a road rage incident in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego or the Inland Empire and it results in criminal charges being filed against you, don’t take this lightly! Penalties for a conviction for ADW can be severe including up to 4 years in state prison in California or more if a person causes great bodily injury to another. Moreover, a conviction for assault with a deadly can counted as a “strike” in many instances under the “Three Strikes Law” which could lead to longer prison sentences if convicted of certain other felonies in the future.