What is Road Rage and Can You Be Charged with it in Texas?

Texas doesn’t have a set law on the books for road rage; however, road rage that results in violence or endangers those around you is considered reckless driving or aggressive driving. The penalty for reckless or aggressive driving can range from fines to loss of driver’s license to jail time. If the violence associated with the offense is severe enough, you could also face a felony conviction.

Aggressive vs. reckless driving

While there isn’t a specific law about road rage in Texas, many instances of both aggressive driving and reckless driving could serve as examples of road rage as well.

Aggressive driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines aggressive driving as a “traffic offense that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property.” The penalty someone receives for aggressive driving depends on the intent of the driver.

Examples of aggressive driving include:

  • Assaulting other drivers
  • Breaking another driver’s window after an accident
  • Cutting off a driver and slowing down
  • Intentionally cutting off a driver
  • Keeping drivers from switching lanes
  • Running other vehicles off the road
  • Shooting a gun at another driver
  • Throwing things at other vehicles
  • Using your vehicle as a weapon
  • Unsafe lane changes

Aggressive-driving charges tend to be criminal charges that carry more significant penalties than reckless driving.

Reckless driving

Texas law states that reckless driving is the act of “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” While in most instances reckless driving is a misdemeanor charge, it can easily be elevated to a felony if the actions of the driver become severe enough. Reckless-driving penalties can include community service, fines up to $200, loss of driver’s license and 30 days of jail time.

Examples of reckless driving include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Drag racing/street racing
  • Driving significantly over the speed limit
  • Driving the wrong way
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Making inappropriate gestures
  • Running a red light or a stop sign
  • Tailgating
  • Shouting at other drivers
  • Weaving through traffic

Prosecuting road rage

Negligence alone won’t be enough to charge someone with aggressive or reckless driving. In Texas, a conviction for either charge requires irrefutable evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the driver knowingly drove or behaved in a dangerous manner. Evidence for aggressive or reckless driving can include excessive speed, a poor driving record and/or toxicology reports.

Recent Houston road-rage incidents

According to Houston police, on October 27, 2021, 51-year-old Bridgett Holloman, who was a passenger in a car, was shot and killed during a road rage incident in south Houston. At the time of the incident, her son was driving her to work. Quentin Taylor, another son of Holloman who was also in the car, stated that a vehicle behind them was speeding, and the car Holloman was in was forced to brake because of a car in front of them.

After that, an occupant in the speeding car began shooting. Holloman’s brother, Marvin Taylor, suspects that the shooter fired because they were upset that Holloman’s son switched into their lane.

To date, police haven’t arrested a suspect in this case. Their only lead is that the Jeep Cherokee the suspect was driving has tinted windows and possible bullet holes in its rear end from another driver at the scene returning fire as the suspect fled the scene.

Four days later, another road rage incident occurred in north Houston. According to police, a man was shot numerous times, and a 1-year-old was grazed by a bullet.

The victim was traveling on the North Freeway when he got into an altercation with another driver. Houston Police Department Sgt. David Solis reported that someone in the suspect’s vehicle began shooting. The victim was hit in the neck, shoulder and twice in the chest.

There were other children in the vehicle at the time, but fortunately, none were injured, and everyone is expected to recover.

Given that road rage in Texas isn’t technically a crime, if you’ve been arrested and charged with road rage, it’s important that you contact an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney at The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp to ensure your rights are protected.

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