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A Guide to Road Rage Laws in California

A Guide to Road Rage Laws in California

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What is the Vehicle Code for Road Rage in California?

California doesn’t have a specific statute for road rage. However, Vehicle Code 13210 CVC outlines what can happen if a driver is caught engaging in road rage. The conduct is any aggressive or angry behavior towards other road users. It puts other people’s lives on the road at unnecessary risk, given the possibility of causing a collision due to the behavior. Road rage can be punished just as a drunk driver who injures others can also be punished. (See my video on punitive damages https://youtu.be/7LvfFVeCZsA?si=PK1ErCqsKcVS5kqA )

The Code allows DMV to suspend a driver’s license if caught engaging in road rage behaviors. If you were involved and injured in an accident due to a driver who was exhibiting road rage, consult skilled personal injury lawyers in Fresno

They can look into your case to help you prove the driver’s negligence and file a compensation claim from the negligent driver’s insurance company. The defendant may try to deny being responsible for your injuries, but experienced legal representatives know how to investigate personal injury cases and make the liable parties pay for their negligence. 

What Does Road Rage Look Like?

Road rage happens when drivers are frustrated or stressed by life circumstances to the extent that they explode into anger and aggression.

Their frustration makes them feel like other people have wronged them, for example, when other drivers block or cut them off from entering a lane.

A slight action could fuel a driver’s anger, causing them to snap and engage in aggressive behavior on the road. Car accident attorneys in Fresno identify the following behaviors that constitute road rage:

  • Verbal insults, yelling, and swearing.
  • Rude gestures while honking excessively.
  • Physical threats
  • Dangerously driving toward another driver to intimidate them.
  • Waving a gun or a dangerous weapon at other drivers
  • Violation of traffic laws, such as crossing intersections or double lines
  • Intentionally cutting off other cars on the road

For some drivers, road rage is a one-time event where their emotions get the better of them. In other cases, the drivers are repeat offenders who have difficulties managing their anger on and off the road.

Is Road Rage a Crime in California?

Road rage is one of the serious violent crimes with severe penalties upon conviction. Drivers arrested for road rage can be charged with the following crimes, depending on the circumstances:

Reckless Driving

Under Vehicle Code 23103 VC, reckless driving is an offense drivers commit when they drive with wanton disregard for:

  • Other people’s safety
  • The safety of other people’s property

Exhibiting road rage and irrational driving can equate to driving with wanton disdain for people’s safety. Car accident attorneys in Fresno say that reckless driving is a misdemeanor that can attract up to 90 days in jail.

Assault with a Deadly Weapon

If a driver exhibiting road rage attacks and injures you using a deadly weapon, they can be charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

Penal Code 245a1 PC stipulates that assault with a deadly weapon occurs when a person attempts to:

  • Injure another person.
  • Using a deadly weapon of great force that is likely to cause significant bodily injury.

A car can be a deadly weapon if the driver uses it to attempt to run you down. Contact Fresno car accident lawyers immediately if you sustain injuries under such circumstances. They can help you file a compensation claim before the statute of limitations catches up.

Criminal Threats

Under Penal Code § 422 PC, the offense of making criminal threats of death or significant bodily injury that intend to place victims in reasonable and sustained fear for their safety is illegal.

Criminal threats can be a misdemeanor or felony charge, depending on the gravity of the circumstances. Consult skilled personal injury lawyers in Fresno if you sustained injuries after a driver criminally threatened to harm you or harmed you when experiencing road rage.

They can advise you on the options available to you.


Under Penal Code 187 PC, a crime of murder is:

  • Committing the unlawful killing of a human being
  • Doing so with malicious aforethought

Malice aforethought is acting with vicious disregard for human life or taking action with a high probability that the conduct will result in death. If you were exposed to a driver with road rage and their behavior led to the death of your loved one, they could face murder charges.

Your personal injury attorneys in Fresno could help you file a wrongful death claim for the loss of your loved one.

What Are the Penalties for Road Rage Upon Conviction?

Drivers arrested for road rage can face civil and criminal charges in California. Under the civil law procedure, the Department of Motor Vehicle can suspend the liable party’s license as follows:

  • Up to six months for the first offense
  • Up to one year for a subsequent offense

The DMV can either find out if the driver lacks the skills to drive and send them an “Order of Suspension.” Alternatively, the department can declare the driver a negligent operator and send them an Order of Suspension.

Negligent Operator

The DMV declares a driver negligent when they accumulate specific points on their driving record. Drivers get points for things such as:

  • Criminal driving offenses
  • Moving violations

If a driver earns enough points within a 1, 2, or 3-year period, the DMV can declare them negligent operators and suspend or even revoke their driving privileges.

Can A Driver Challenge a 13210 CVC Suspension?

A driver can challenge DMV’s decision to suspend their license due to road rage. If the suspension was because the DMV determined the driver lacks the skills to drive, they can:

  • Ask for an administrative hearing.
  • Defend themselves by proving they have the skill to drive.

The DMV will conduct a re-examination process, and if it agrees that the driver has the skill to drive, it will cancel the suspension. If the suspension was because the DMV determined the driver to be a negligent operator, the driver can request a negligent operator hearing.

They will show why their driving privileges should not be suspended or revoked.

The hearing officer may decide one of the following:

  • The license suspension is upheld or set aside.
  • The driver is placed on negligent operator probation.
  • The driver gets a suspension but is granted a restricted license.

Criminal Penalties for Road Rage

Enraged drivers often display various forms of criminal behavior. If convicted of a criminal charge related to road rage, they risk hefty penalties that vary depending on the case circumstances. Four possible criminal charges drivers could face for road rage are the following:

Aggressive or Reckless Driving

It’s a crime to drive a car with intentional disregard for the safety of other people’s lives or property. The habit includes tailgating, swerving, speeding, and other dangerous driving behavior that determines whether the driver violated the law.

Upon conviction for reckless driving, a driver can face the following penalties:

  • Up to $1,000 in fines
  • Up to 90 days in jail

Fresno car accident lawyers say the penalties could be stiffer if the charge includes bodily injury or significant bodily injury to someone other than the driver. Your lawyers can help you determine how much you can recover from the negligent driver if you sustained injuries due to their reckless driving associated with road rage.


An angry driver may attempt to threaten you or apply force to you or a pedestrian. If you believe the driver’s acts would directly and probably result in the application of force and the driver could do so, they could face charges for assault under penal Code 240 PC.

The crime is a misdemeanor that attracts the following penalties upon conviction:

  • Up to six months in jail
  • Fines of up to $1,000

Assault with a Deadly Weapon

If an enraged driver uses their car in a manner that could be considered assault, their action could be regarded as assault with a deadly weapon. For example, if they purposefully sped toward you as if they were about to hit you and then swerved at the last minute, they could be charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.

The crime can be a misdemeanor or felony with up to four years imprisonment in state prison for a felony conviction. Pulling a gun against someone could make the driver face charges for brandishing a firearm.


If a driver’s rage causes them to hit or use force against you, they could face battery charges under Penal Code 242 PC. The penalties for battery upon conviction include:

  • A fine of up to $2,000
  • Up to six months in county jail

The penalties could be more severe if the battery results in serious bodily injuries. Talk to skilled car accident lawyers in Fresno as soon as possible if an enraged driver injured you or your loved one after assaulting you.


Fresno car accident lawyers often see cases where drivers damage or destroy other people’s property in road rage incidents. Examples include enraged drivers getting out of their cars and keying the victim’s car.

The consequences of vandalism depend on the severity of the damages. If the damage is worth less than $400, the driver could be charged with a misdemeanor, and the penalty is a jail time of up to six months. If the value of the damage is more than $400, the charge is a felony that attracts an imprisonment of up to three years.

Hit and Run

A hit-and-run accident is a crime in California. Fleeing the accident scene without leaving a note or attempting to reconcile the situation can put a driver at risk of criminal charges. The driver could be convicted of a misdemeanor if the crime entails property damage.

If the charges include bodily injuries to the victim, the driver could face felony or misdemeanor charges, depending on the severity of the damages. The penalties are as follows:

  • Jail time of up to six months in county jail for a misdemeanor and up to four years for a felony conviction
  • A fine of up to $1,000 for a misdemeanor conviction and up to $10,000 for a felony conviction

Recovering damages for injuries sustained in a hit-and-run accident can be challenging. Fortunately, car accident lawyers in Fresno are trained, skilled, and dedicated to investigating such cases to bring justice to victims. If you were involved in a road rage incident that resulted in a hit-and-run accident, consult your lawyers as soon as possible.

Can I Sue a Driver for Road Rage?

Road rage can have severe consequences, such as car accidents that lead to devastating injuries. If the other driver’s aggression or anger leads to a crash that injures you or your loved one, you could sue them for the damages you suffer. The law provides that negligent drivers should be held liable for their negligence.

Filing a successful personal injury lawsuit after a road rage incident can be a long process that requires you to:

  • Seek prompt medical attention.
  • File a police report.
  • Gather witness statements.
  • Record the details of the accident as you remember them.
  • Determine how much your lawsuit is worth.

Personal injury lawsuits can be complex, and navigating them can be challenging. So, consider hiring aggressive car accident lawyers in Fresno to help you make the strongest case possible. You can pursue compensation for the following damages:

  • Medical expenses
  • Property damage
  • Lost wages from being too injured to work.
  • Ongoing pain and suffering

What Can I Do to Handle Road Rage Incidents?

Incidents of road rage are rampant in California freeways and boulevards. An aggressive confrontation can force you and your passengers off the roadway or put you in the face of hostile drivers who leave their cars to threaten your peace. The best way to remain safe from road rage is to avoid situations that spark it.

Even if you feel threatened by road rage, ensure you remain calm and take the following actions to protect yourself:

Regulate Your Emotional Response

When you realize that a driver is acting aggressively or threatening you on the road, you may develop the urge to respond out of anger or fear. This may only do more harm than good. Fresno car accident lawyers recommend remaining calm, remembering that you intend to reach your destination safely. Allow the angry driver to have their way, no matter how unfair it seems.

Avoid Eye Contact with the Angry Driver

Eye contact can come off as aggression to some people, so try to keep your eyes off the driver. Additionally, don’t respond to their threats verbally or otherwise. Even if you were wrong, a simple apology should be enough. Avoid suddenly braking if the driver is tailgating you, which could result in a severe collision.

If the angry driver tries to corner you, honk to get the attention of other drivers and passersby to quell the situation. Call the authorities if the situation gets out of hand.

Avoid Tailgating

Driving too closely behind other cars can provoke some drivers’ anger, causing accidents due to abrupt braking or speeding. The law has provisions against tailgating, and you can avoid the behavior using the three-second rule.

Find a stationary object on the side of the road and wait until the car in front of you passes it. Count one to three before you pass the object you identified. If you pass it before you finish counting, you’re tailgating and should reduce your speed to leave enough room between you and the car in front.

Overall, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Call 911 immediately if you’re a victim of road rage.
  • Drive to the nearest police station if an aggressive driver is following you.
  • File a police report about the aggression and request a copy.
  • Remain in your car.
  • Don’t engage the offender.
  • Seek medical evaluation immediately after the incident.

If you or your loved ones were victims of road rage, don’t suffer in silence. California has strong laws to keep you protected while punishing the offenders. Experienced car accident lawyers in Fresno can handle your case and bring the liable parties to book in pursuit of justice for you and your family.

Consult A Skilled Personal Injury Attorney If Involved in a Road Rage Incident

Road rage is a growing concern on the roads, which the National Highway and Traffic Safety Authority attributes to more drivers driving more miles on the same roads than ever before and a combination of other factors. However, whatever the cause, victims of road rage should fiercely be advocated for by knowledgeable Fresno personal injury lawyers.

If you or your loved one were injured in a road rage incident, reach out to the lawyers at Nunes Law Inc. We take pride in fighting on behalf of innocent personal injury victims. Our firm is founded on the value of taking the wheel and steering our clients toward a swift recovery. Call us at (559) 702-5124 to schedule a FREE consultation.

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