Driving can be a tough job you not only have to concentrate on the road but also make sure you don’t break the law while following all regulations when you’re behind the wheel. Not following the rules not only puts you and others on the road at risk but can also result in costly traffic tickets/fines.
While some laws are straight forward, others can be a tricky. In this article, we’re going to talk about a California Stop, an extension of the California Stop Law.
California Stop Sign
It doesn’t matter if you’re a new or old driver, your vehicle will come to a stop several times a day. Sometimes due to a sign and sometimes for safety reasons. Hence, it is very important that you’re fully knowledgable of the California Stop law while driving in the Golden State.
You’ll see stop signs everywhere – from highways to residential communities. It can be difficult to travel more than a mile without encountering at least one stop sign. Despite this, not everyone is aware of how these signs work or what the laws currently are.
A large number of people in California end up neglecting a stop sign from time to time. Before we start, we must mention that the name, “California Stop” was invented in this state. In simple words, it refers to rolling stops, a practice that’s very common in California.
California stop refers to the practice of merely slowing down your vehicle to a crawl, instead of coming to a full stop when you come across a stop sign, before proceeding. The practice is illegal as the vehicle does not come to a full halt. Despite this, a large number of drivers are found guilty of this crime.
Vehicle Code 22450 covers this aspect in California. The law states that all vehicles must come to a stop when there is a stop sign.
All vehicles are required to fully stop when there is a stop sign or they come across any of these:
- A street to enter
- The outer edge of the crosswalk
- The limit line
All these factors are important but you must pay special attention to the limit line as you will come across it on a number of stop signs. It’s placed near stop signs to tell drivers where to stop.
Here’s what the law says:
a) The driver of any vehicle approaching a stop sign at the entrance to, or within, an intersection shall stop at a limit line, if marked, otherwise before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection.
If there is no limit line or crosswalk, the driver shall stop at the entrance to the intersecting roadway.
(b) The driver of a vehicle approaching a stop sign at a railroad grade crossing shall stop at a limit line, if marked, otherwise before crossing the first track or entrance to the railroad grade crossing.
(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a local authority may adopt rules and regulations by ordinance or resolution providing for the placement of a stop sign at any location on a highway under its jurisdiction where the stop sign would enhance traffic safety.
Unfortunately, very few drives in California pay attention to rolling stops and most do not consider it a major offense, which is why they often expect offers to only give a warning if they’re caught breaking the law. However, you’d be surprised to know that in most cases, you will end up with a ticket and if you are a repeat offender then you might end up losing your license.
This is because not coming to a stop at a stop sign and only slowing down equals running a stop sign. If you’re caught, you will get one point on your record and a ticket that can cost about $230.
If you end up with too many points on your record, you will be considered a negligent or risky driver, which can turn out to be very costly in the long-run. In fact, in California, the license can get suspended if you accumulate 4 or more points in a period of 12 months. Plus, points also affect your insurance.
Insurance companies do not like to work with risky drivers. The more points you have on your driver’s record, the more expensive will be your car insurance.
It can be hard to answer this question because different people have different reasons for what they do. However, it is believed that rolling stops happen due to three reasons:
Why Do People Break The Law?
- Drivers do not take it seriously
- Drivers are in a hurry
- Drivers are not careful enough and neglect the stop sign
As mentioned earlier, a lot of drivers think that California stop is a major problem and they don’t pay much attention to the law as they’re in a hurry to reach their destination.
It’s a selfish move that can cost the driver and others on the road serious losses. It is better to be late than to not reach at all.
Sometimes, drivers can be distracted and they pay no attention to where they’re driving. Remember that neglecting or not seeing the stop sign is not a valid excuse to break the law.
Similarly, being in a hurry is usually not an acceptable excuse in the court of law. The law is pretty clear in these situations. It doesn’t only tell you to stop at stop signs but also where to stop so that there are no issues.
The law considers rolling stops illegal in almost all circumstances that involve the stop sign. Moreover, the law requires drivers to stop the vehicle at specific points before railway crossings and intersections that have stop signs.
Whenever the law asks you to stop your vehicle, it means to come to a complete stop.
For How Long Should I Stop?
The law is clear about one thing – your vehicle should come to a complete halt, i.e.: your speed must be zero. There’s no limit on how long your car should stop.
If your car is still in motion (even if at the lowest possible speed) it’s not at a halt (California Stop). Even if it stops for a second, you’re said to be at a halt.
Some people are of the idea that the “three-second rule” applies in California, which means each car should stop for 3 or more seconds. This is nothing but a myth. However, we suggest that you stop for at least three seconds so that there’s no confusion if you get a ticket.
Stopping for a very short duration can lead to issues because the officer might think that you didn’t stop at all and it might be hard for you to prove that you did.
Where To Stop My Car At an Intersection?
Here’s what the law –Vehicle Code 22450 – says:
The driver of any vehicle approaching a stop sign at the entrance to, or within, an intersection shall stop at a limit line, if marked, otherwise before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection.
In simple words, drivers entering an intersection that has a stop sign must stop when they see any of the following:
- The limit line
- A crosswalk
- The intersecting street
Drivers must not wait for the other, they must come to a full stop when they see any of the three things.
Where To Stop My Car At a Railway Crossing?
Here’s what the law –Vehicle Code 22450 – says:
The driver of a vehicle approaching a stop sign at a railroad grade crossing shall stop at a limit line, if marked, otherwise before crossing the first track or entrance to the railroad grade crossing.
In simple words, drivers approaching a railway crossing that has a stop sign must stop when they see any of the following:
- The limit line
- The entrance or the first track to the railway crossing
Penalties for California Stop
Drivers must not wait for the other, they must come to a full stop when they see any of the two elements.
Penalties can be quite serious. If you are caught not stopping at a stop signal then you will end up with a ticket. Moreover, you might also get a point on your driving record.
A ticket will cost you about $238 but it can end up being costlier as the amount does not include court fees.
While it only results in the addition of 1 point to your driving record, every point counts since these points can stay on your record for up to 3 years. You may end up losing your license as they prove that you’re a negligent driver.
Points can also turn out to be costly since insurance companies inspect driving records when offering a quote. The more points you accumulate, the more money you will have to pay for insurance.
Lastly, in some cases, the DMV may choose to revoke your driving privileges, especially if you are caught breaking the law over and over again.
What To Do After I Get a Ticket?
While we encourage all drivers to obey the law, however, if you ended up with a California Stop ticket then it’s important to know what to do.
In most cases, you will have two options:
- Pay the ticket
- Fight it
If you choose to pay your ticket then make sure to do so according to the method given on your ticket and by the deadline as being late can result in legal issues.
If you’ve decided to challenge the ticket then look for a reliable California Stop lawyer who can help you defend your case. There are some legal defenses available that can strengthen your case but you will need the services of a reliable attorney to fight your case.
Some of the most common defenses include:
- No stop sign at the railway crossing or intersection
- Faded or hidden stop sign
- You stopped for a very short duration
- You didn’t stop in order to avoid a crash
- There was an emergency
You will need to prove your case, hence make sure to gather supporting evidence such as photos and videos. It is not mandatory to hire the services of a legal expert but we suggest that you do so since experts are better aware of how to fight cases. Plus, your expert can help you collect evidence and strengthen your case.
It’s also believed that prosecutors offer better deals to defenders who have assistance. Also, when you have an expert on your side, you will not have to worry about going to court in person.
Will I Be Asked to Attend Traffic School?
Violating Vehicle Code 22450 VC does not mean you will be asked to attend a traffic school. However, you can voluntarily decide to go to traffic school, but this option might not be open to all violators.
You can choose this option only if you meet the following conditions:
- You were driving a noncommercial vehicle when you were caught
- You were driving with a valid license that you still have
- The ticket that you receives is for an infraction (moving violation)
The purpose of traffic school is to learn traffic laws so that you can be a better driver and reduce your risk of getting another fine in the future. However, remember that going to a traffic school will not cause your ticket to get dismissed.
You will still have to pay your fine. However, it can be beneficial as those who choose to attend traffic school might have the option to get a point removed from their record.
Make sure to have a conversation with your traffic school and make your expectations clear. You must choose a registered and recognized school to get the point off your record.
What If California Stop Results in an Injury?
The law encourages drivers to stop at a stop sign as not doing so can result in injuries to other drivers and passersby on the road. If this happens, the driver will most probably be considered negligent and he or she may even have to face a personal injury lawsuit.
Negligence is defined as “the failure to use reasonable care to prevent harm to oneself or to others.”
Not following the law is considered negligence and can cause the driver to pay heavy damages. However, it can be a little difficult to prove negligence in such cases.
The law in California is very clear, a driver is said to be “negligent per se” if he or she violates a statute. Despite this, the driver may have the option to recover for any losses or damages he or she incurs due to the state’s comparative fault laws.
Personal injury cases can turn out to be very tricky. You will need the assistance of a good lawyer to prove your case and ensure you don’t have to pay heavy penalties.
California Stop: Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most commonly asked question about California stop:
Is it a crime to not stop at a stop sign?
No, it’s not a criminal offense; however, it’s an infraction that can result in fines.
What happens if I neglect my ticket?
Do not make the mistake of ignoring a ticket as it can have serious consequences.
Ignoring a ticket is a violation of VC 40508, which can result in heavier penalties. When you get a ticket, you will have to sign a promise to appear in court at the given time and location.
This promise is binding and if you fail to appear in court then you can get prosecuted. It doesn’t matter if you willingly refused to appear or due to a genuine reason, you are considered an offender even if you were initially innocent and you did stop at the stop sign.
Penalties include heavy fines – up to $1,000 – and jail time – up to 6 months – or a mix of both.
Can I lose my license if I do not stop at a stop sign?
You will not lose your license just for not stopping at a stop sign; however, you may lose it if you accumulate enough points by being a repeat offender or by breaking other traffic laws.
How can I stop my license from getting suspended?
By following the law. If you’ve already made a mistake then consider completing traffic school as doing so may get points removed from your record. This is very important because points can stay on your record for up to 3 years.
Laws Related to California VC 22450?
Merely knowing about VC 22450 might not be enough, you must also know about related laws including:
Vehicle Code 21802 (a) VC says:
The driver of any vehicle approaching a stop sign at the entrance to, or within, an intersection shall stop as required by Section 22450. The driver shall then yield the right-of-way to any vehicles which have approached from another highway, or which are approaching so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard, and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to those vehicles until he or she can proceed with reasonable safety.
To yield is to allow other drivers on the road to go first. The law leaves a little ambiguity as the terms “reasonable safety” and “immediate hazard” aren’t clearly defined and they’re to be determined based on the situation.
The accused may choose to raise a legal defense and contest the accusations.
The other law is also related to the same issue. Vehicle Code 21803 states:
The driver of any vehicle approaching any intersection which is controlled by a yield right-of-way sign shall, upon arriving at the sign, yield the right-of-way to any vehicles which have entered the intersection, or which are approaching on the intersecting highway close enough to constitute an immediate hazard, and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to those vehicles until he or she can proceed with reasonable safety.
Once again, it refers to letting other drivers go first. The law leaves a little ambiguity in this case as well since the terms “reasonable safety” and “immediate hazard” aren’t clearly defined and they’re to be determined based on the situation.
Lastly, Vehicle Code 21453 requires drivers to stop their vehicles at red lights.
Vehicle Code 21453 states:
A driver facing a steady circular red signal alone shall stop at a marked limit line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection, and shall remain stopped until an indication to proceed is shown, except as provided in subdivision (b).
The penalties for this violation are different and rivers may have to pay fines up to $525.
If you or someone close to you has received a California Stop ticket then waste no time and get in touch with a legal expert to understand your rights.