Most drivers are guilty of getting worked up when behind the wheel. While
getting upset, especially when another motorist commits a traffic violation
or nearly causes a crash, is not illegal nor unusual, episodes of road
rage can quickly get out of control. In some cases, road rage can very
well lead to events or actions where a driver is arrested by law enforcement
and charged with a crime.
At Knowles Law Firm, PLC, our criminal defense attorneys have represented
many motorists who were charged with crimes in connection to driving,
including clients who faced criminal allegations for acts that arose from
road rage. If you or your loved one stands accused of a crime in Phoenix,
Mesa, or any of the surrounding areas of Arizona, our experienced defense
team is standing by to review your case free of charge and explain how
we may be able to help.
Arrests connected to road rage are certainly not new. The common behaviors
associated with road rage, such as speeding or disobeying traffic laws,
have always been against traffic code, and in some cases, the state’s
criminal code. Other actions committed by upset motorists have also led
to arrests in the past. Today, however, the prevalence of smart phones
equipped with cameras has led to increased awareness of road rage events
that can quickly turn into criminal charges.
Arizona makes a clear distinction between aggressive and reckless driving and
road rage, which is categorized as a criminal offense:
Arizona classifies road rage as a crime, not a traffic infraction. According
to state law, road rage occurs when a motorist uses their vehicle or any
other type of dangerous weapon to assault a driver or passenger in another
vehicle. It can also include other assaults that happen as a result of
incidents that occur on a road or highway. Prosecutors who choose to levy
road rage charges will need to show that a driver exhibited “willful
and wanton” disregard for the safety of others as a result of their
being upset behind the wheel.
Whether or not you can be arrested for road rage, will depend on the unique
facts and circumstances surrounding the event. In Arizona, road rage is
commonly prosecuted under statutes that cover assault and related offenses.
In the most serious cases, prosecutors may choose to charge drivers with
seirous felonies that may include:
Assault or aggravated assault
- Manslaughter or homicide
Any type of assault or
violent crime poses serious penalties, including lengthy terms of imprisonment and a
felony on one’s criminal record, and anyone charged with road rage
or an assault offense should be intent on working with experienced defense
attorneys. In addition to road rage and assaults, drivers can face criminal
repercussions for other offenses that arise from road rage. These can include:
Reckless Driving – In some cases, law enforcement officers can charge motorists who
exhibit a reckless disregard for safety with a Class 2 misdemeanor with
reckless driving. These charges commonly arise from speeding, tailgating,
unsafe lane changes, swerving, and other unsafe driving behaviors that
do not rise to the level of assault. As a Class 2 misdemeanor for reckless
driving can result in fines, driver’s license suspension, and up
to four months’ imprisonment. Drivers with a prior reckless driving
conviction will face elevated penalties for a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Aggressive driving – Aggressive driving differs from reckless driving in that it involves
a progression of several illegal driving acts, such as speeding, illegal
lane change, unlawful passing, disobeying traffic signs, tailgating, and
failing to yield that pose an immediate hazard to others nearby. As a
Class 1 misdemeanor, aggressive driving poses penalties that include driver’s
license suspension, up to $2,500 in fines, and up to 6 months’ imprisonment.
Both reckless driving and aggressive driving cases can vary widely depending
on the unique facts involved, which is why it is critical to work with
an attorney who can explore ways of minimizing penalties or reducing these
traffic offenses when possible.
Regardless of the exact charge that arises as a result of road rage, legal
representation is critical to ensuring you have the legal guidance and
advocacy you need to fight against serious penalties and a criminal record.
Knowles Law Firm, PLC is prepared to leverage decades of experience to
help anyone facing road rage, assault, and other criminal charges, and
fight for the best possible results.
Contact us today for a free review of your case.