A recent national television report asserted that road-rage incidents are becoming more common and more deadly. One of the latest incidents took place in Pennsylvania, in which a man is alleged to have shot and killed a teenage girl during a traffic merge. Click to watch level-headed advice from your Independent Program Attorney about what to do—and what not to do—in these situations.
Hello, my name is Edwin Walker. I’m an Independent Program Attorney with Texas Law Shield.
I want to talk to you today about an issue that we see on a daily basis. In fact, you will encounter it on a daily basis—the subject of road rage. I am sure that you have all seen road rage. You may have actually been involved in a road rage incident.
Now, if you’re a responsible gun owner, I’m going to give you a few words of advice on how to react when you find yourself in one of these unfortunate road-rage incidents. While on the roadways, we all observe something that makes us upset, whether it’s poor driving, unsafe driving, or just simply somebody being very discourteous.
By all means, you should restrain yourself from engaging that person and telling them how bad their actions were because this can be perceived as an act of road rage. If you’re a lawful gun owner and have a firearm in your vehicle, you do not want to be viewed as the aggressor in a road-rage situation.
Now, about a situation where an individual has chosen to rage against you, and you are the actual victim of road rage, if you and the other individuals are still in their automobiles, do not use your firearm to respond to any of the rager’s activities. This is because law enforcement views the fact that you’re both still safely in your metal boxes as removing any threat of immediacy that you may be harmed.
So please, if you have a gun, and somebody is raging against you, forget that you have a gun, don’t display it, don’t brandish it, don’t show it, don’t point it, and for God’s sake, don’t fire it. This could result in a lot of trouble for you. Now let’s look at a situation where a road rage incident has escalated to the point where one of the participants has actually gotten out of their vehicle. We recommend that you stay in your vehicle at all times. Do not exit your vehicle because the person who left their vehicle is going to be looked at as the aggressor.
If the other individual has exited his or her vehicle and the person is not in contact with your vehicle, and they do not have a weapon, then do not feel that you can display your weapon in the act of self-defense. People are allowed to just simply stand there and scream at you—scream whatever they want—until they make a demonstrative effort to try to harm you. There is no immediate threat that would justify displaying or shooting or brandishing your firearm.
Now, if the person shows a weapon, in particular, a firearm, the existence of a weapon would give you reasonable belief that there was an immediate threat of harm that would justify an act of force or deadly force.
Even in this situation, I would be very cautious. Now, if this situation escalates even further, where the person has actually made physical contact with your vehicle, whether they are beating on it with an instrument with their fists or they’re attempting to open your door, this would give you the facts that you would need to show that you had a reasonable belief that that individual is unlawfully and forcefully attempting to either enter your vehicle or remove you from your vehicle. This is very very important because this falls under what is commonly known in Texas as the Castle Doctrine.
The Castle Doctrine provides that an individual is given a presumption of reasonableness if they use force or deadly force in a situation where they believe that the person is unlawfully and forcefully either attempting to enter their occupied vehicle or remove somebody from their occupied vehicle. This legal presumption can be very very important because this legal presumption then says that you are allowed to use force or deadly force in response to this other individual’s actions.
We want to keep you safe out on the roadway, so keep these words of advice in mind and try to have a little less road rage out there. If we have a little less road rage, maybe we’ll have a safer world.