Damages and Liability for Road Rage Accidents

Getting frustrated behind the wheel is common – especially on some of Arizona’s busiest roads during rush hour. Frustration and stress, however, are not the same as intentionally intimidating or harming another person because of road rage. Road rage is an act of extreme aggressive driving that can lead to criminal charges such as assault. If a driver lets him or herself reach the point of road rage and it affects other people on the road, that driver could face criminal and civil repercussions.

Is Road Rage Illegal?

Road rage itself is not illegal, but many typical actions an enraged driver takes behind the wheel are. A road rage driver could commit the crime of reckless driving in Arizona, for example – a serious misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of four months in jail and/or a $750 fine. Excessive speeding, weaving between cars, making abrupt or unsafe lane changes, or tailgating could all lead to the criminal charge of reckless driving. If road rage leads to other dangerous acts, the driver could face additional criminal charges.

  • Assault and battery. Arizona law defines assault and battery as intentionally or recklessly causing a physical injury to another person or placing someone in fear of imminent physical injury. If road rage causes a driver to leave his or her vehicle and start a fight, that driver could face an assault charge. Assault can result in penalties from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 5 felony, with 6 months to 15 years in prison.
  • Assault with a deadly weapon. A road rage driver could face more serious assault charges if he or she uses the vehicle as a weapon, such as ramming another car or hitting a pedestrian. Assault with a deadly weapon, or aggravated assault, is a Class 2 to Class 5 felony, punishable with mandatory jail time if it is a dangerous offense. Up to 15 years in prison is the punishment for a first offense.
  • Harassing someone from behind the wheel of a vehicle could mean shouting at, berating, gesturing or discriminating against another driver. The crime of harassment is a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 5 felony, punishable with 6 months to 2 years in jail.

Other road rage behaviors could qualify as traffic infractions, such as distracted driving, running a red light or speeding. These could result in lesser penalties such as traffic tickets, fines and points against the driver’s license. If the road rage driver commits an illegal act, however, he or she could face criminal charges and life-changing consequences.

When Can I Press Charges for Road Rage?

If you become the victim of road rage in Arizona, call the police from the scene of the incident. Do not attempt to follow, chase or tailgate the road rage driver. Get the road rage driver’s information, if you can, such as a description of the vehicle and license plate numbers. If anyone witnessed the incident, get that person’s name and contact information. Work with the police to help resolve your case. While it will not be up to you to press criminal charges, your cooperation with the prosecution could help your case.

It is up to you, however, to press civil charges. If the road rage driver caused you damages such as a wrecked vehicle and/or personal injuries, you could have grounds to file a civil claim against him or her. A civil claim asks you or your lawyer to prove the road rage driver was negligent or reckless, and that this caused the damages for which you are seeking compensation. A Glendale personal injury attorney could help you gather evidence for your claim such as property damage estimates, medical bills and eyewitness testimonies. The road rage driver may owe you compensation for your economic and noneconomic damages, including mental duress and psychological trauma.