There are some statistics that have come out in LA county indicating that 30% of road rage incidents involve a gun. If you or a loved one is accused of a road rage incident with gun use, you probably have charges filed against you, like an assault with a deadly weapon, possibly brandishing a gun.
If the gun was fired, there could be other much more severe charges. Road rage is described as a vehicle driver overreacting to another driver's perceived act on the roadway and expressing their anger in an overt threatening manner.
In other words, road rage incidents typically involve a scenario where a driver overreacts to a perceived provocation and immediately decides to vent their anger and frustration in a violent manner, such as:
- flipping off the other vehicle driver,
- aggressively blowing their car horn,
- screaming insults out the car window,
- tailgating the other car,
- swerving recklessly,
- screaming threats out their window,
- insulting hand gestures.
Simply put, road rage is an overly exaggerated reaction to intimidate another driver or extreme venting of anger. In the most severe cases, they will signal a challenge to the other driver to pull over on the side of the road and fight them.
Road rage incidents have increased sharply as traffic conditions worsen on the crowded streets and highways in the state of California. Some Data show that many fatal car wrecks are related to road rage.
Road rage can result in criminal charges and a license suspension by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). While most road rage incidents are relatively minor, some severe cases involve using a gun. California doesn't have a specific road rage law; instead, prosecutors will use other statutes to charge someone. Let's take a closer look below.
What Are the Possible Charges in Road Rage Incidents?
As noted above, while California does not have a specific road rage law, they will use other laws, such as the following:
- Vehicle Code 23103 VC – reckless driving,
- Penal Code 243(d) PC – aggravated battery,
- Penal Code 245(a)(1) PC – assault with a deadly weapon,
- Penal Code 417 PC – brandishing a weapon,
- Penal Code 12022.53 PC – gun enhancement law,
- Penal Code 664/187 – attempted murder,
- Penal Code 187 PC – murder,
- Vehicle Code 23152 VC – driving under the influence,
- Penal Code 240 PC – assault,
- Penal Code 242 PC – battery.
Vehicle Code 13210 VC allows the DMV to suspend a person's driver's license for a road rage incident, which will last six months for the first offense and a year for any further crimes. The DMV could suspend a driver's license by finding that the driver lacks the skills to drive or declaring them a negligent operator.
If you fire a gun, you can be charged with PC 664/187 attempted murder which carries a sentence of 15 years to life. Shooting a gun at an occupied vehicle and assault with a deadly weapon are all strikes under California's three strikes law.
If the bullet strikes the driver, in addition to the attempted murder charge, there's a 25-year enhancement for firing a gun at somebody illegally and striking them.
What Are the Best Defense Strategies for Road Rage?
So, as far as what the consequences are, in general, the prosecutors will usually be looking at putting you in prison and getting at least one strike on your criminal record.
To avoid that, you will have to show that your background is good and your case is an anomaly, meaning that it is different from what they usually see when people use weapons against other people.
I've had cases recently where my client used a weapon, and there were no bullets in the gun, and he had no bullets in the car, so he never intended to shoot anybody.
He couldn't shoot anybody, so that's undoubtedly going to be a mitigating factor that I'm going to use with the prosecutors to try to convince them not to send my client to prison.
Also, I think what the other person was doing related to the road rage incident would certainly be relevant.
if that person threatened you, if they had a weapon, if they were driving recklessly, then there's certainly an argument that you may have been able to defend yourself.
Mitigating the Circumstances
Maybe you didn't handle it the right way, but the point is that you have to look at something that gives you some leverage or a foothold as it relates to mitigating the circumstances.
Of course, we're going to look at your prior criminal record. We will look at character letters from family members, a job, or any type of religious organization. We're trying to paint a picture of you that shows that you're not a dangerous person. The prosecutors will also probably ask why you had the gun.
Were you out committing crimes and just got caught because you got involved in a road rage incident? Did you go to the shooting range?
These are also other factors they take into consideration. Whenever you're involved in road rage, it's dangerous for the community, and that's a significant factor that the judges and prosecutors look at.
If they feel that a person is a danger to the community, they're going to be looking at putting that person away for as long as possible; number one; and number two, they're going to be looking at getting some mark on their record so if they do it again, their punishment will be much worse.
So, if you're looking for the best if you or a loved one is charged in a road rage incident anywhere in Los Angeles or surrounding counties, pick up the phone. Make the call. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.
I've been handling these types of cases for 28 years. I worked for the District Attorney's office. I worked for a Superior Court judge; in 1994, I became a criminal defense attorney helping people like you. The Hedding Law Firm provides a free case consultation via phone or contact form.