Written by attorney Scott Ryan Ball

Common Traffic Tickets in CA Explained: Passing and Lane Changing Tickets

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 passing or changing lanes, 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 passing and lane changing violations: · VC 21658(a) – Unsafe lane changes. A violation of this section results when you either straddle two lanes or make a lane change without regard for “reasonable safety." However, just because you signal your lane change does not necessarily make it “reasonably safe." This is a subjective interpretation by the officer who gives you the ticket. An experienced attorney can challenge this subjectivity and often have this kind of citation dismissed. · VC 21655.5 through 21655.9 – Traveling in, and crossing into a high occupancy vehicle lane. Also known as the carpool lane, these violations are extremely expensive, with a $100 base fine that comes out to a total fine and fees of over $400. However, these infractions are subject to requirements that certain surveys have been conducted within a specified time period before you received your ticket. If a proper survey has not been conducted in the requisite time period, your ticket should be dismissed. · VC 21750 & VC 21751 – Dangerous passing. This section requires that you “interfered with the safe operation" of any vehicle or bicycle while in the act of passing. Unless you have caused a near accident, this is a violation that is relatively easy to fight due to the extremely subjective nature of the wording of the law. · VC 21752 – Unsafe “blind" passing. Similar to the previous section, this infraction prohibits unsafe passing when there is an obstacle (such as a hill or curve) where another vehicle might approach. It does not matter if another vehicle was approaching or not. · VC 21754 & VC 21755 – Passing on the right. You are generally prohibited from passing on the right side of a vehicle unless you are on a divided highway or the passed vehicle is making a left hand turn. There are, however, exceptions to this rule, such as where the street is wide enough to accommodate two lanes of traffic. · VC 22526 – Entering an obstructed intersection. Also known as the “Anti-Gridlock Act," this infraction results when you enter an intersection and there is not sufficient space to get completely through the intersection before the light turns red. Even if you entered the intersection when your light was green, if you get stuck blocking traffic, you can be cited for this offense. Further, if there are posted signs warning about the offense, your fine will be doubled. If you have been cited for any of these passing or lane change violations, it would be wise of you to contact an attorney. Often, these sorts of tickets can be reduced to non-moving infractions, which do not result in a point on your record (or an increase in your car insurance) or even completely dismissed.

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