Endangering other people on a highway is serious business, but road rage in Texas is not as simple as breaking traffic laws or getting angry on the road. Not only are the road rage laws in Texas a bit oblique, if not downright confusing, but technically they don’t even exist.
For clarification, Texas courts have guidelines and laws with which to prosecute and settle road rage incidents, but there are no Texas laws using the term “road rage,” and road rage charges are really a slew of other charges.
To combat some of this confusion, Board Certified Criminal Lawyer and DWI expert Mark Thiessen is here to discuss what exactly is going on with Texas road rage laws and what to do if you are accused of endangering other people on a highway.
When does road rage become a crime?
Is road rage a criminal offense? Road rage is a behavior, but it is also an umbrella term under which a number of criminal and traffic violations fall. Usually, if you engage in road rage as a behavior, you are committing another offense. Some more common road rage-related criminal and traffic offenses include:
- Reckless driving
- Aggressive driving
- Criminal mischief
- Assault and battery
- Aggravated assault
- Vehicular assault or homicide
- Disturbing the peace
- Discharging a firearm
- Deadly misconduct
As you can see many road rage-related offenses can take place after an accident or outside of the vehicle. After a car crash, even if someone else endangered you on the road, retaliation would still be considered a road rage incident. If you were involved in a car or truck crash because of either party’s reckless driving, you need to get the best truck accident lawyer in Houston that you can find, especially if sparks were flying.
Most of these road rage behaviors are pretty clearly defined, but the terms specific to road rage that more often need defining include reckless and aggressive driving, which center around endangering persons or property on the road.
Examples of road rage incidents
In order to discuss any road rage incident or road rage-related offense, a few key ideas need to be defined. It takes more than going over the speed limit to establish reckless or aggressive behavior on the road, although going over the speed limit can contribute to evidence of reckless driving. This stuff can get complicated and is often the point of much deliberation in court.
What is distracted driving?
Distracted driving is, according to the NHTSA, “any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system — anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.” Distracted driving, other than being a traffic ticket and reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop, can sometimes count as proof of reckless driving.
What is reckless driving?
Reckless driving is defined in Texas Transportation Code § 545 as driving a vehicle with “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Reckless driving is, under most circumstances, a misdemeanor in Texas, but can be upgraded to a felony depending on the circumstances.
What is aggressive driving?
Aggressive driving is essentially reckless driving with demonstrative intent. The NHTSA broadly outlines aggressive driving as offenses that “endanger persons or property.” Some common examples of aggressive driving include:
- Intentionally cutting off another driver
- Cutting off a driver and slowing down
- Preventing others from switching lanes
- Assaulting another driver
- Running a vehicle off of the road
- Unsafe lane changes
- Using your vehicle as a weapon
- Throwing objects at other vehicles
Whether endangering other people on a highway was intentional or not in your case can depend on the severity of your penalties if convicted. Looking for an aggressive or reckless driving expungement? You’ll often need the charges to be dropped in order to prevent any charges from going on your criminal record, which means you will need an aggressive and experienced trial lawyer to fight for you.
Penalties for road rage in Texas
Texas doesn’t have a law that directly defines how to prosecute road rage, but road rage incidents often involve breaking traffic laws as well as criminal laws. Due to the wide net cast by the term road rage — as well as the terms aggressive and reckless driving — the penalties for committing a road rage offense vary significantly, from a slap on the wrist and a $200 fine, all the way to life in prison.
Charges for endangering other people on the highway can come in many forms, including DWI charges. Your first DWI in Texas can land you with reckless or aggressive driving charges as well as the already heavy penalties for DWI. Road rage incidents carry serious penalties, and you need an attorney who isn’t afraid to go to trial to fight for your rights, regardless of the charge.
Accused of endangering other people on the highway? Call Thiessen Law Firm today.
If you or a loved one has been accused of endangering other people on the highway in a road rage incident, you need an experienced attorney to start building your case as soon as possible.
Mark Thiessen is an aggressive and accomplished criminal attorney who is known for delivering over 100+ “Not Guilty” verdicts for his clients. He has a track record of seeking justice and finding it, even in the most sensitive cases. Call Thiessen Law Firm today at (713) 864-9000 or contact us online for a free consultation.
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