You know that if you run a red light or speed in California, you may be pulled over and given a ticket. You may even receive a ticket in the mail if you run a red light at an intersection with one of those pesky red light cameras. But you probably don’t know about some of the hundreds of other violations you may be committing when you get in your car.
The California Vehicle Code contains hundreds of rules. Some don’t even require that you be driving to violate!
One of these is impeding traffic, which you can be cited for if your car is blocking the normal flow of traffic. A ticket could end up costing you hundreds of dollars in fines, cause an increase in your car insurance premiums, and even result in a suspension of your license. Now you can see why it is important to be aware of some of the lesser known violations:
• Driving too slowly in the left lane. Under Vehicle Code Section 21654 it is illegal to drive in any lane except for the far right lane if you are traveling at “less than the normal speed of traffic.” This means that if you are driving in the left lane, you must drive along with the speed of traffic—even if the speed of traffic is above the posted limit. You are probably thinking, “Wait, there are a number of legitimate reasons I could be driving in the left lane!” Fortunately, there are several effective defenses and you can get off the hook by a showing that you were about to make a left turn or you were in the process of passing another vehicle. With a skilled attorney on your side, tickets for this sort of infraction can often be dismissed.
• Impeding traffic. Vehicle Code Section 22400(a) says that you must drive at a reasonable speed so as not to block the normal flow of traffic, regardless of which lane you are in. Unfortunately, this is a subjective call by the officer giving you the ticket. But, fortunately, you may be able to argue that you were traveling at a reasonable speed given the road conditions and the condition of your particular vehicle. There are many conditions, such as visibility and weather, which an experienced attorney can use to argue that you were in fact driving at a speed necessary for the safe operation of your vehicle.
• Failure to use turnouts. You may get a citation under Vehicle Code Section 21656 if you drive at a slower rate than the normal flow of traffic on a two-lane highway (one lane in each direction), there are at least five vehicles behind you, and you fail to pull over in a marked turnout area when you have the opportunity to do so. Unlike a violation for impeding traffic, it is no defense that you were traveling at speed necessary for the safe operation of your vehicle. If you have the opportunity to pull over when given the opportunity, you are guilty. An experienced traffic attorney may be able to help you fight this type of violation.
• VC 21703 – Tailgating. No, this isn’t the type of tailgating that happens in the parking lot of a football stadium. Under Vehicle Code 21703 you may not follow another vehicle too closely. Like impeding traffic, this is also a subjective call by the officer. It will often depend on your speed, the flow of traffic, and road conditions. But a good general rule of thumb is one car length (about 15 feet) for every 10 mph of speed. So if you are going 60 mph, you should be six car lengths behind the car in front of you. But, as most of us have experienced, the determination will be what is “reasonable and prudent” may depend on the officer’s mood. An experienced attorney can challenge this in court.
Of course, if you have specific questions about any traffic ticket received in California feel free to contact at us anytime.