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Is Aggressive Driving a Criminal Offense in California?

The NHTSA defines aggressive driving as operating a vehicle ‘in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger other persons or property.’ Common aggressive driving behaviors include lane blocking, tailgating, making sudden lane changes, and failing to yield right of way. According to a National Safety Council study, these acts are a factor in 50 percent of all accidents.

Aggressive driving is often likened to road rage, which refers to when a driver commits an act of violence against another road user. Because road rage is a crime, this relation often raises the question, is aggressive driving a criminal offense?

Contact our Los Angeles Car Accident Attorneys with El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers if you have been injured in an aggressive driving accident.

Aggressive Driving Laws in California

California is one among very few states in the country with laws making aggressive driving a criminal offense. Aggressive driving is considered an automobile crime, which means charges may carry criminal penalties and permanently remain on your criminal record.

The California aggressive driving statute defines the act as a ‘willful and wanton disregard for the safety of other persons or property.’ This means that a court must determine whether the aggressive driver deliberately chose to disregard safety measures.

Proving aggressive driving may require that a court consider the following factors:

  • The speed the driver was traveling at
  • Whether the driver engaged in dangerous maneuvers such as tailgating
  • If the driver’s actions endangered other road users

Aggressive Driving-Related Charges

California has passed several codes that are used to place aggressive driving charges. Two of the charges an aggressive driver may face include:

  • Aggressive or Reckless Driving

Under the California Vehicle Code 23103 VC, it is a crime to ‘drive a vehicle on a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. The court will determine whether a driver has violated the law by looking at acts such as tailgating and swerving.

  • Assault

If an aggressive driver threatens, demonstrates, or applies force to another driver, pedestrian, or cyclist, they may be charged with assault, a misdemeanor, under the Penal Code 240 PC.

Penalties for Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving is initially treated as a misdemeanor crime in California. Being convicted may lead to the following penalties:

  • A fine of up to $1,000
  • Jail time of up to 90 days
  • Surcharges in auto insurance rates
  • Loss of driving privileges
  • Having your vehicle impounded

An aggressive driver may also face ‘extreme aggressive driving,’ charges, which is a serious auto crime. For instance, if you are charged with assault with a deadly weapon in an aggressive driving incident, you may face a fine of up to $10,000 or jail time of up to 4 years.

According to vehicle codes, subsequent aggressive driving charges carry increasingly severe penalties.

Consult a Car Accident Attorney

Is aggressive driving a criminal offense? California is one of the few US states that have made aggressive driving a criminal offense and set up designations to the act. If a driver is convicted of this crime, they may face criminal penalties and a permanent record.

Aggressive drivers don’t use their vehicles as weapons, but they engage in dangerous acts. If an aggressive driver injures you, you may be liable for compensation. Please contact us today at 888-540-0325 to talk to one of the Los Angeles Car Accident Attorneys with El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers.