California has made amendments to its existing reckless driving laws to add aggressive driving. Aggressive driving is made punishable under reckless driving laws. Unlike the general trend followed by other states, in California aggressive driving is a criminal offence. Hence, the California citizens should be extra cautious while driving; otherwise it is possible to end up in jail facing a criminal charge for aggressive driving. A study conducted in the 90s showed that California had the highest rate of aggressive driving deaths.
Reckless driving is defined by the statute as “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property” and reckless driving is treated as a misdemeanor. There are various factors which the court will consider to determine reckless driving, namely: speed rate, swerving, and tailgating. If found guilty, the driver will have to face imprisonment up to 90 days, and fine up to $1,000. See Cal Veh Code § 23103. Based on the level of conviction sometimes the auto insurance rate may also be increased as a penalty. However, charges for extreme aggressive driving or road rage are: aggressive driving and, assault or assault with deadly weapon. The state considers the vehicle as a deadly weapon in the hands of the driver, and if the driver drove the vehicle in an aggressive manner, he/she can be charged for assault with deadly weapon. Assault with deadly weapon is considered as a misdemeanor or a felony and is a serious offence.
If the driver is charged under felony assault with deadly weapon, the he/she may have to face imprisonment of 2, 3 or 4 years, and if charged under misdemeanor assault with deadly weapon, the driver will have to face one year in county jail or by fine not exceeding $10,000 or by both the fine and imprisonment. See Cal Pen Code § 245 (a)(1).