When aggressive driving leads to road rage

Under Arizona law, aggressive driving results in more than just a traffic ticket. It is a criminal offense with serious penalties. Too often, however, aggressive driving leads to road rage, and events can quickly spiral out of control.

The elements of a road rage incident often occur quickly, and the sequence of events may be in question. If you face charges of aggressive driving or road rage, you may also end up with additional charges against you. Understanding what you are up against and the potential consequences associated with an aggressive driving charge may help you avoid situations where your future is at stake.

Aggression behind the wheel

Something happens to certain people when they are behind the wheel. Driving creates a level of stress that almost seems uncontrollable. If you are one of these people, you may find yourself committing acts of aggression behind the wheel. The charge of aggressive driving is very specific, involving speeding and other hazardous behaviors that place other drivers at risk. Some of those behaviors may include any of the following:

  • Running a traffic light or stop sign
  • Honking your horn or flashing your lights
  • Darting across lanes or passing on the shoulder
  • Cutting off another driver
  • Following too closely
  • Slamming your brakes

If the situation escalates to where you make threats against the other driver, ram your vehicle into another car or physically confront another driver, you have entered into the realm of road rage.

A deadly level of rage

Road rage can result in charges of assault — which is the threat of harm — or battery — which means causing harm. You may also face charges of assault with a deadly weapon if you use your vehicle to threaten harm. If the confrontation reaches an extreme level and a fatal accident occurs, you may face felony charges that could change your life forever. Additionally, road rage incidents often culminate in the use of weapons, such as guns or bats.

If you recognize the potential for road rage in yourself, you may benefit from learning ways to control your emotions behind the wheel. You may find using deep breathing exercises or playing calming music is helpful. However, your personality may require more intense help, such as counseling or anger management. These may be a small inconvenience compared to the consequences of a criminal road rage conviction.