What is Considered Road Rage in California and What Are the Penalties?

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It is aggravating enough driving on California freeways when you are in stop-start situations where you feel like you will never get home. Learn how to keep a sense of calm about you, rather than letting your frustrations get the better of you, particularly if some person moves into your lane without even looking to see if they will clear your vehicle.

Flipping the Middle Finger

It might make you feel better by letting out that expression, and it is not illegal to do it. If the other driver is already angry enough, it might escalate things to a level that can be life-threatening. Such an action is supported by free speech, but not everyone may be happy with your free speech. The problem is that you and the other driver are in moving vehicles, which could become dangerous weapons if you both are distracted by trying to get the upper hand.

Assault with a Deadly Weapon

Cars and other vehicles are not on the list of California’s dangerous weapons. Your vehicle can be described as a dangerous weapon, though if you choose to try and chase someone down who flipped you the finger. You may feel you did not deserve that, and it triggers every emotional button you have in your brain.

Driving in an erratic, aggressive, or reckless manner, such as weaving dangerously between one lane to another, tailgating, swerving, and speeding, may earn you 90 days in county jail

When you begin chasing another driver down because that driver made you mad, then you are now the problem. The only people allowed to legally chase another person in a car is the peace officer with a marked vehicle indicating that it is the police, along with the flashing lights.

Assault with a deadly weapon, covered by California Penal Code § 245(a), can bring a punishment of two, three, or four years in a state prison, along with a fine of $10,000 or less. If a lesser charge or penalty, you may spend up to a year in a county jail, and possibly, a fine of $10,000 or less. In an assault, where a driver attempts to apply force to another, the penalty would be up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine as a misdemeanor conviction.

Erratic Driving Behavior

Driving in an erratic, aggressive, or reckless manner, such as weaving dangerously between one lane to another, tailgating, swerving, and speeding, may earn you 90 days in county jail and a $1,000 fine. Not only are you a danger to yourself and any passengers, but you can startle another driver who reacts in a way to cause an accident, such as jamming on the brakes to avoid colliding with you.

The car behind that driver may not be able to stop in time and the whole situation could turn out badly for everyone involved, including you, if you are caught. If someone was filming your car, then the police will find you.

Help Yourself with Calmness Therapy

Play music on your car stereo that makes you happy or you can also invest in those nature CDs that play ocean waves, thunderstorms, or other calming sounds. Do not play one that puts you to sleep.

If you have been charged with road rage and assault, call us at once for a consultation. 619-234-2300

Author Photo

Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.

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