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Road Rage at the California DMV

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What does the California DMV consider to be Road Rage?

Everyone recognizes the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as the government agency where we go to register our cars and apply for the California Driver License.  What few people realize is just how much power the DMV has to suspend or revoke a person’s privilege to drive.  Independent of any action taken by a court, the DMV has the power to withdraw a person’s driver license if they believe there is good cause to do so.

One of the most common reasons the DMV will remove a driver from the road is if that person becomes a Negligent or Incompetent Operator.

The DMV can identify a person as a Negligent or Incompetent Operator for a number of reasons, but here we discuss the topic of Road Rage. Road Rage is commonly defined as:

“Aggressive or angry behavior by a driver of an automobile or other road vehicle which includes rude gestures, verbal insults, physical threats or dangerous driving methods targeted toward another driver in an effort to intimidate or release frustration.”

Road Rage is seated in the emotion of the errant driver and, as we all know emotions can run high on today’s freeways.  Violence, injuries and death are often a consequence of Road Rage.  As a result, the DMV considers Road Rage to be dangerous to the motoring public and will work aggressively to remove such a driver from the road.

What is the History of Road Rage? Angry and aggressive drivers have existed since the invention of the wheel; however, the term
“Road Rage” is actually attributed to news casters from a Los Angeles based television station in 1987 and 1988 when a series of random shootings in the LA Basin were coined Road Rage.  Shortly thereafter, The Automobile Club (AAA) produced pamphlets instructing its members on methods to deal with and avoid Road Rage.

History has shown that young males are typically more prone to Road Rage than other groups of drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has identified 33 year old males as being predominantly responsible for 96% of Road Rage incidents.  It is also thought that drivers who adorn their vehicles with bumper stickers and territory markers are more prone to Road Rage.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that more than 1,200 incidents of Road Rage are reported each year.  Clearly the numbers of actual incidents must be much higher as many events are never reported to the police.  More astonishing is the rate at which these numbers are increasing year after year.  Just between 1990 and 1996, the AAA report found that the numbers of reported incidents of Road Rage increased by 51%.  There is every reason to believe that the numbers continue to rise.  NHTSA noted in a review on the subject, “ If it seems that there are more cases of rude and outrageous behavior on the road now than in the past, the observation is correct, if for no other reason than there are more drivers driving more miles on the same roads than ever before.”

How is Road Rage Reported to the DMV?

Essentially, there are two ways that the California Department of Motor Vehicles learns of a Road Rage incident:

  • Law Enforcement Referral: Without question, the most prevalent means by which the DMV learns of a Road Rage incident is by way of a referral from a Law Enforcement Officer.  Police officers respond every day to reports of Road Rage (Also referred to as Highway Violence).  In some instances, the law enforcement contact results in the arrest of one or more parties, but very often the facts to not rise to the level of criminal activity.  Any time the DMV receives a referral from a Law Enforcement Officer that a particular driver has been involved in a Road Rage or “High Violence” incident; the department will immediately identify that driver as Negligent Operator and begin the process of removing that person from the road.
  • Private Party Referral: Any person may report an incident of Road Rage to the California DMV.  Using the PDF form here any person can report another driver to the DMV.  As long as the form is signed by the reporting party, the DMV must investigate the accused driver to determine if they are a Negligent or Incompetent driver.  When filling out the referral, the reporting party may ask to remain anonymous. Also, the DMV provides a test to determine if you may be an agreesive driver, you can take the test here.

What Can I do to Protect my Driver License?

If you have learned that the California DMV is identifying you as a Negligent Operator because of an incident of Road Rage, the preservation of your driver license will depend on your reacting quickly and appropriately.  Because the DMV will demand that you respond to them quickly, you have very little time to waste.

Call the DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates.  We are a group of Administrative Law Specialists who have been defending the rights of California drivers for years.  If your privilege to drive is important to your future, don’t leave anything to chance.  Call CDA today.

If the DMV is your Problem...

California Drivers Advocates is your solution. We Are Here To Defend Your Driving Privilege. Contact our DMV Defense Experts here.


Video Transcript: Hi, my name is Rob Collier. I’m the president and CEO of California Driver’s Advocates. Today, I’d like to talk with you about road rage and how the DMV views that. The California DMV of course, is an enormously powerful entity that has the power to grant drivers licesnces and to take them away. One of the most prolific reasons that the DMV will take a person’s drivers license, is for the person becoming a negligent or incompetent driver.

And one of the most common or increasing reasons that the DMV will identify a person as a negligent operator is if that person has been involved in an act of road rage, also known as highway violence. Road rage is an incident where a person loses their temper and by way of hand gestures or verbal insults or dangerous driving, they create a dangerous situation. And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that there are at least 1,200 reported incidences of road rage each year. And we know that those numbers are much, much higher because countless numbers of those incidences go unreported.

The reality is, is that if you have committed an act of road rage, the DMV will think that you are unfit to be on the road because you can’t control yourself. And you create a hazard to the public. As a result, the DMV will move to revoke your driving privilege and take you off the road. So that’s what road rage is. Now, many times these things are taken out of context. Many times the evidence is skewed. And so many of these cases can be won. I encourage you to not let the DMV take your license without fighting for yourself. And so if we can help you, we’ll be right there for you. If you have any other questions or would like information, give us a call or visit our website.

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