ROAD RAGE – JEKYLL AND HYDE
There’s something about settling in behind the wheel of an automobile that causes some people to lose all sense of civility. Even the most meek, mild-mannered among us can transform into a monster when we get out on the road. Anything perceived as interfering in any way with our ability to do what we want, as fast as we want, sets off an emotional volcanic eruption.
And somehow the fact that we are in a vehicle emboldens us to do things we would never do in a more personal setting. Would you ever give the finger to and curse out an elderly person to her face at a grocery store because she is taking a long time checking out? Then why do you do it when she delays making a right hand turn at a red light? Was it really necessary to lay on the horn and start flipping the bird because the car in front of you did not start moving the literal nanosecond the light turned green? Did it make you feel better to brandish that hand gun at the person who just cut you off in traffic?
ROAD RAGE KILLS
Seriously folks, road rage is serious business. We’ve all seen the news. People are getting killed out there. Tempers flare completely out of control. We would probably all do well to chill out on the road, and keep our emotions in check.
Apart from the obvious safety issues, there are legal consequences to road rage. Arizona law makes “aggressive driving” unlawful. The aggressive driving statute defines the offense as a combination of traffic violations. According to the statute a person commits aggressive driving if:
- He is speeding; AND
- He commits two or more of the following:
- Failure to obey a traffic control device;
- Passing on the right;
- Unsafe lane change;
- Failure to yield the right of way; AND
- His driving is an immediate hazard to another person or vehicle.
Crystal clear, right? The law treats a first offence like a civil traffic violation, with the guilty party required to attend traffic survival school. A second offense within a 24 month period is a class 1 misdemeanor.
Arizona treats road rage as a crime. The Arizona Department of Public Service (“DPS”) defines road rage as “an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of another motor vehicle or an assault precipitated by an incident that occurred on a roadway.”
Road rage requires proof of “willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others.” There is no specific crime identified as road rage in the criminal code. But what we think of as road rage may be prosecuted as any one or more of several crimes, such as assault, endangerment, and threatening or intimidating. These are serious crimes that carry serious penalties.
Under Arizona Statute, Road Rage falls under Aggravated Assault as a vehicle is considered a dangerous instrument. Control your emotions or face serious felony offenses.
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