Now that I am retired having been many years a magistrate with a long awareness of the declining freedoms enjoyed by the ordinary citizen and a corresponding fear of the big brother state`s ever increasing encroachment on civil liberties I hope that my personal observations within these general parameters will be of interest to those with an open mind. Having been blogging with this title for many years against the rules of the Ministry of Justice my new found freedom should allow me to be less inhibited in these observations.





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Wednesday, 31 August 2016

ROAD RAGE:- WHAT`S THAT?







As an active J.P. the most interesting of sittings in my opinion usually involved legal argument of one sort or another. As such at the time I made notes of  a sitting one morning five years ago.  Although often quoted there is no offence of domestic violence.  Similarly there is no offence of road rage per se. 


The case in question before us was a S4 public order matter allegedly committed on a public road involving a car door being opened by a stranger against the wishes of the driver. Apparently the reason we were told for the alleged action was not, at least originally, malicious. The argument or perhaps dispute was that after the CPS had agreed a statement of facts to which the defendant had agreed to plead guilty our legal advisor said to the court that the facts indicated that this was a case which should be considered “road rage”. Defence argued against this interpretation on the basis that driving per se was not the cause of the incident. CPS insisted that the agreed facts were acceptable. I questioned the lawyers as to what was the definition of and/or what constituted “road rage” and whether we could, from the facts, consider that such a scenario could be drawn.


After an hour none of the three lawyers could find where in English law “road rage” was defined. We sentenced on the basis of agreed facts.  As far as I am aware the term "road rage" still  has no basis in law and the CPS in its guidance does not indicate otherwise. 

Like the description SUV; sports utility vehicle, road rage is a shorthand undefined phrase imported from U.S.A*. Perhaps when the aforementioned domestic violence becomes a stand alone charge with various degrees of harm road rage too will figure in CPS terminology.

*wikipedia
 
The term originated in the United States in 1987–1988 (specifically, from Newscasters at KTLA, a television station in Los Angeles, California), when a rash of freeway shootings occurred on the Interstate 405, 110, and 10 freeways in Los Angeles. These shooting sprees even spawned a response from the AAA Motor Club to its members on how to respond to drivers with road rage or aggressive maneuvers and gesture

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