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 Phoenix 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.
What is Road Rage?
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 serious 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 offenses to traffic offenses when possible.
Get Experienced Legal Help - Call Knowles Law Firm, PLC Now
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.