Common Traffic Tickets in CA Explained: Failure to Yield

September 10, 2012

Everyone knows that speeding or running a red light or stop sign can result in being pulled over and given a traffic ticket for your momentary lapse in judgment. But did you know there are literally hundreds of California Vehicle Code sections you can violate every single time you get in your car? (And some, even, that you don’t even require you to be driving?)

If you’ve been cited for one of the many violations dealing with failing to yield, it could end up costing you hundreds of dollars in fines, an increase in your car insurance premiums, and even a suspension of your license. Learn more about the most common failure to yield violations:

• VC 21451 & VC 21453 – Right of way in intersections. If another vehicle is in the intersection before you, you must give them the right of way, even if your light is green, you have already come to a complete stop at a stop sign, or before making a right turn on a red light. You do not have to wait until the intersection is completely cleared before entering, but you must not deliberately crowd other vehicles. Whether you are a crowding another vehicle is a subjective interpretation by the citing officer. This kind of subjectivity can be brought into question in court, and an experienced attorney can often create the reasonable doubt necessary for a finding of not guilty. NOTE: VC 21453, dealing with failure to yield at a red light, is a particularly harsh offense, with a base fine of $100, which, with penalty assessments and various court fees, will cost you over $450 for a conviction.

• VC 21800 – Uncontrolled four way stops. Remember driver’s ed? If you and one or more vehicles get to a four way stop at the same time, the vehicle to your right has the right of way. However, if any vehicle came to a complete stop first, then that vehicle has the right of way. This violation is often cited when an officer comes to the scene of an accident which they did not see. If this is the case, it is important to remember to never admit to the officer that the other vehicle was there first or that you were at fault. Your admissions can and will be used against you in court.

• VC 21801(a) – Left or U-turn. When you are making a left or U-turn and there is no controlled green arrow signal, you must yield to oncoming traffic. Again, this is another very subjective interpretation by the officer, and it is also another infraction that can be successfully challenged by a skilled attorney.

• VC 21802 & VC 21803 – Stop and yield signs. Even if you have come to a complete stop, you must still yield to oncoming traffic if, upon entering the intersection, you constitute an “immediate hazard” to any other vehicle. However, this traffic ticket can be challenged by numerous methods, such as obstructions that made you unable to see oncoming traffic, or if the other driver was driving at an unsafe speed.

• VC 21950(a) – Pedestrian in a crosswalk. You must yield to pedestrians at both marked and unmarked crosswalks, even after coming to a complete stop. An unmarked crosswalk is the prolongation of sidewalk boundaries where any two streets meet at right angles. You do not have to wait until the pedestrian has exited the crosswalk, it is only required that any pedestrians are out of the way. This is a different rule than in some states, and police officers can sometimes mistakenly cite you incorrectly. If that is the case, it is important to have an attorney with you to challenge this sort of ticket.

• VC 21951 – Passing vehicle stopped at a crosswalk. If a vehicle in front of you has yielded to a pedestrian, you may not pass that vehicle. This is fairly straight forward, but can be subject to several challenges by a skilled attorney that can create reasonable doubt about your guilt. This section is also a particularly harsh offense, with a base fine of $100, which, with penalty assessments and various court fees that will cost you over $400 for a conviction.

• VC 21952 – Pedestrian on sidewalk near driveway. You must yield the right of way to a pedestrian on a sidewalk when entering or exiting a driveway. Just because a driveway isn’t a regular roadway, doesn’t mean that you have the right of way!

If you have been cited for any of these common traffic infractions, it would be wise of you to contact an attorney today. Often, these sorts of tickets can be reduced to much less expensive violations or even completely dismissed. If you would like a free and completely confidential evaluation of your case, contact the Law Office of Scott R. Ball today.

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