Is Road Rage Illegal in Phoenix?

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Is Road Rage Illegal in Phoenix?

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It usually shocks people involved in Phoenix road rage incidents when they get arrested and face criminal charges. “Is road rage illegal?” they’ll ask. In Arizona, there is no specific charge for road rage. However, a driver’s actions during a road rage incident—such as reckless or aggressive driving—are criminal actions. And because of its nature, sometimes road rage leads to shootings and other crimes that come with their own charges.

Road rage occurs when a person feels overwhelming anger towards another driver and decides to take revenge, and it has become a large problem in the United States. Each year, 8 out of 10 Americans face a road rage incident, and road rage is behind about 30 homicides every year. 

Here in Arizona, road rage also continues to be a problem. In fact, a recent report from the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety says road rage incidents increased by 23% between 2020 and 2021. 

An Example of Road Rage 

An older man is driving to work one morning in the middle lane of a three-lane highway, adhering to posted speed limits. Suddenly, a large, black pickup truck speeds up behind him. The truck tailgates the man’s car, honking at him. Intimidated, the man moves his car to the right lane to let the truck pass. Instead of passing right away, the truck pulls up alongside, and two younger men in the truck start taunting him. One of them makes an obscene gesture before the truck speeds away. 

The older man becomes enraged by the bullying of the younger men in the truck. He decides to speed up, catching up to the truck and driving aggressively in an attempt to cut them off. Both drivers roll down their windows and start yelling at each other as they speed along the highway. Suddenly, increased traffic causes the cars in front of them to slow down. Not paying attention, both the truck and the car crash into the stopped vehicles in front of them, causing a major accident. 

After interviewing witnesses, the drivers of both vehicles are arrested and charged with crimes associated with road rage. 

Is road rage a crime in Arizona?

In Arizona, there is no specific charge for road rage. Instead, a prosecutor charges a person with different types of related crimes depending on the circumstances. Looking back at our example, both drivers would face charges of either reckless driving or aggressive driving. 

Arizona statute ARS 28-693 defines reckless driving as the act of a person driving a vehicle in disregard for the safety of those around them. Examples of reckless driving include: 

  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Texting while driving
  • Swerving
  • Ignoring road signs

In Arizona, reckless driving is a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to four months in jail, $750 in fines, and driver’s license suspension.

If a driver commits more than one act of unsafe driving, they may face charges of the greater charge of aggressive driving. Under Arizona statute 28-695, a person commits aggressive driving if they are speeding and do two of the following:

  • Make an unsafe lane change
  • Pass a vehicle on the right by using the road’s shoulder or driving off the road
  • Tailgate
  • Fail to give the other driver right-of-way
  • Disregard traffic control devices, such as gore lines 

Arizona considers aggressive driving a Class 1 misdemeanor with penalties including up to six months in jail, $2,500 in fines, and a suspended driver’s license

In addition to reckless or aggressive driving charges, road rage defendants may also face charges of: 

  • Aggravated assault or assault by intentionally or recklessly causing physical injury to another person
  • Committing acts while knowingly endangering those around them with possible injury or death
  • Manslaughter or homicide 
  • Various deadly weapon charges if the road rage incident involving a shooting

Get Legal Help for Phoenix Road Rage Charges

Is road rage illegal? It most certainly is, and it is no laughing matter. Road rage events can have a tremendous impact not only on the drivers involved, but also on all the people around them. 

If you’re charged with a Phoenix road rage incident, it’s vital to hire a certified criminal law specialist like Todd Coolidge who understands Arizona law and will do everything he can to reduce your charges or get them revoked if possible. Contact our law offices today at 602-795-0770 in Phoenix or 480-264-5111 in Chandler for an appointment. 

Photo by Randy Lisciarelli on Unsplash

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