Road rage criminal charges in Canada

As criminal defence lawyers, we often get calls from people who have been charged with “road rage” incidents. It’s important to note that road rage, in and of itself, is not a criminal offence. However, there are many types of behaviour that can escalate and lead to criminal charges. These charges may include assault, assault causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon, mischief, dangerous driving, careless driving, and more..

What is a “road rage” charge?

Driving is usually an enjoyable or at least bearable experience. However, tempers can quickly flare up and frustrations can mount, changing our experience. This sudden shift from calm to anger can be triggered by factors such as running late due to construction, encountering drivers who aren’t as efficient or courteous as we expect, or facing heavy traffic. Many of us have coping mechanisms like expressing our disbelief to a passenger, listening to music, or taking a few deep breaths. We refer to this experience as road rage, a term commonly used to describe the intense frustration and anger we feel while driving.

road rage charged criminal assault

Where is “Road Rage” found in the Criminal Code of Canada?

“Road rage” is not an actual legal term defined in Canada’s Criminal Code or Highway Traffic Act. Giving into road rage, however, is unsafe and can lead to a number of very real criminal charges.

Some of these charges under the Criminal Code of Canada can include:

  • Criminal Negligence – Section 219
  • Criminal Negligence Causing Death – Section 220
  • Dangerous Driving – Section 249
  • Failure to Stop at Scene of Accident – Section 252
  • Uttering Threats – Section 264.1
  • Assault – Section 265
  • Assault Causing Bodily Harm – Section 267
  • Assault with a Weapon – Section 267 (This includes using the vehicle itself as a weapon)
  • Aggravated Assault – Section 268
  • Mischief (This includes willful damage to a vehicle) – Section 430

It’s not hard to imagine how many of these events could happen in the blink of an eye. Imagine this scenario for instance:

A driver is cut off on the 403 and rear-ends the car in front of them. Both drivers perceive the other one to be at fault and they begin yelling at each other. One driver gets back behind the wheel or reaches for a weapon and the next thing you know one is fleeing the scene.

Are there other “road rage” types of offences under the Highway Traffic Act?

Criminal offences aren’t the only type of offences that road rage can lead to. Two of the more major offences under the Highway Traffic Act that can stem from road rage are:

It is easy for many drivers to feel anonymous and powerful while masked in a vehicle. Aggressive-driving behaviours, such as tailgating, speeding, failing to yield the right-of-way and cutting in front of someone too closely, may cause other drivers to become frustrated and angry and lead to a road rage conflict between drivers. An angry driver may attempt dangerous retaliatory action.

What if I am about to be charged or already charged with road rage allegations?

If you’re looking for some information on how the criminal process works and what to expect first, we have more resources here:

If you’ve already gotten behind the wheel and slipped into road rage, we can help.

The odds of success with any responding to any of these charges are much higher with the insight and guidance of experienced counsel. If the Crown is seeking jail time, you need your vehicle for your employment, or you can’t afford years of exorbitant insurance increases – then it is strongly suggested that you retain competent legal counsel.

The lawyers in our firm offer experienced legal representation for serious traffic offences like careless driving.  You can reach us 24 hours a day by calling (416) 999-9389 or complete a consultation form here