Obeying Official Traffic Signs | California Vehicle Code 21461
You may have noticed that the California Vehicle Code consists of jumbled and overlapping regulations. This can lead to confusion when police officers attempt to cite the appropriate violation code for your alleged vehicular actions.
If an incorrect, outdated vehicle wrongfully applied code is listed on your citation our team of experts can dismiss the alleged violation without hestitation.
California Vehicle Code 21461 states:
(a) It is unlawful for a driver of a vehicle to fail to obey a sign or signal defined as regulatory in the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, or a Department of Transportation approved supplement to that manual of a regulatory nature erected or maintained to enhance traffic safety and operations or to indicate and carry out the provisions of this code or a local traffic ordinance or resolution adopted pursuant to a local traffic ordinance, or to fail to obey a device erected or maintained by lawful authority of a public body or official.
Traffic ticket experts leverage this confusion to obtain dismissed
Section 21461 is a “catch all” regulation that makes it “unlawful for a driver of a vehicle to fail to obey a sign or signal … or to fail to obey a device erected or maintained by lawful authority of a public body or official.”
This is a handy violation for officers to cite when they cannot find or remember the sections of the traffic code that apply to more specific violations (such as disobeying a “no turn on red” sign).
Signs or signals
This statute applies to signs or signals that conform to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.
Most traffic signals and signs erected by state or local governments will meet that standard. There is a reason that nearly all speed limit signs look alike.
They have all been manufactured to meet the specifications of the Manual.
Every now and then, however, the police write a ticket in an effort to enforce a nonstandard sign
For example, bureaucrats in a local government building wanted drivers to enter their parking lot from one driveway and to exit using a different driveway.
They had the city’s sign shop Caltrans) make a “no exit” sign that they posted next to the entrance. When drivers disregarded the sign and exited using that driveway, the police would ticket them.
Traffic ticket experts were able to get those tickets dismissed because the “no exit” sign did not conform to the requirements of the Manual
Government employees also must ensure they’re acting within the authority that makes a sign enforceable. Some private businesses will put up their own “official looking” signs, like stop signs, in private parking lots.
Private businesses are not public roadways, these signs do not fall within the scope of section 21461. That doesn’t always stop an officer from writing tickets when drivers ignore those signs, but it does enable traffic ticket experts to get those tickets dismissed.
The word “device” is also a catch-all phrase that includes not only signs and signals, but markings on the pavement (such as “Left Turn Only” painted in a left turn lane).
Drivers are required to obey those markings if they are legible, but traffic ticket experts can often point out that skid marks and foul weather have all but obliterated the paint.
When the “device” no longer exists, a ticket based on disregarding it must be dismissed.
Police also try to ticket drivers under section 21461 who drive around traffic barriers. A traffic barrier does not meet the definition of a device. Since it is also not a sign or signal, a traffic ticket expert can get those tickets dismissed.
This “catch all” violation can cost you a minimum of $237 and a point on your driving record if left undisputed.
Were you cited for CVC 21461? Reach out to our team for a free ticket review today to see if we can assist.