California takes aggressive driving seriously. Unlike most other states where it’s a civil offense, it’s a criminal offense here in California. The state amended reckless driving laws already on the books to include aggressive driving several years ago. The state statute for reckless driving describes it as driving without regard to the safety of persons and property. Drivers charged with one or more forms of aggressive driving could face jail time of up to 90 days or a fine of up to $1,000. The change to the law came about after state legislators saw that California consistently ranked first in number of aggressive driving deaths and injuries.
Understanding Aggressive Driving
Driving can be stressful, and some people don’t handle the responsibility as well as they should. They take out their frustration on other drivers instead of doing whatever is necessary to de-escalate the situation. Some of the most common forms of aggressive driving include the following:
- Ignoring traffic lights and signs
- Driving too close to the rear bumper of another car
- Repeatedly not signaling when turning or changing lanes
- Cutting too closely in front of another car when changing lanes
- Weaving in and out of traffic, often speeding while doing so
- Shining the car’s high beams directly in the face of another driver
- Quickly pulling in front of another driver and then slamming on the brakes
- Attempting to start a drag race
- Passing another car in a no-passing zone
- Honking when it’s not an emergency or making intimidating gestures towards other drivers
- Not yielding to pedestrians in a crosswalk or other drivers who have the legal right of way
If you’re on the receiving end of this type of behavior, you can pull over to call 9-1-1 to report it. Try to get the license plate number and description of the car as well as a description of the offending driver.
What Constitutes Road Rage?
Road rage is a separate category of criminal offense from aggressive driving. It involves a person using his or car as a weapon, pointing a gun at another driver, or physically assaulting another driver. Penalties for these crimes can include jail time up to four years and a fine of up to $10,000. You should always report road range crimes to the local police.
What to Do After a Crash with an Aggressive Driver
Your safety is always of primary concern after any accident, but it’s even more important to keep yourself safe when the accident involves a driver who has demonstrated aggressive behavior. Attempt to obtain information from this person the best you can, such as his or her name, address, telephone number, and insurance company. However, it should not surprise you if the other driver leaves the scene, becomes hostile to you, or refuses to give you any information. In this situation, call the police and let them deal with it. Be sure to jot down as many details as you can to report to the police and to your insurance carrier later.
If you or a passenger appears injured, seek immediate medical attention. You will need to keep copies of all billing statements if you plan to file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver within the two years that California allows under its statute of limitations. Request a Free Consultation with Garmo & Garmo
Garmo & Garmo, Attorneys at Law, offer all new clients a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss their case and determine if they’re eligible to file a lawsuit. We encourage you to contact our El Cajon, California office at your convenience to schedule an appointment. You can reach us at 609-441-2500. Because we serve a diverse population, some of our attorneys speak Spanish, Arabic, or Chaldean in addition to English. We look forward to helping you seek financial justice from the driver who injured you by choosing to act in an aggressive manner.