Five California Traffic Offenses You Probably Don’t Know About

Posted by Neil Shouse | Aug 12, 2015 | 0 Comments

If you have a California driver's license, you should know all the rules of the road. But here are five California traffic laws that just might surprise you.

  1. There are different rules for drivers under 18.

You may already know that California drivers may use the speaker phone function on their cellular telephone with a Bluetooth or other earpiece. However, you might not be aware of a new rule prohibiting drivers younger than 18 years old from using a wireless telephone or any other electronic mobile device to speak or text while driving, even using a hands-free headset. The only exception to this rule is to call 911 in emergency situations.

  1. You can't smoke in a vehicle with a minor.

Since 2008, it has been illegal to smoke a pipe, cigar, or cigarette in a vehicle when a minor is present.  The police can't pull you over simply for smoking.  However, if you get stopped for another traffic violation, you can be fined an extra $100 in addition to the fines for any other infractions.

  1. It is illegal to leave children or pets in a vehicle unattended.

You probably already know that this is not a good idea. However, you may not be aware of the specifics of this law. In California, it is illegal to leave a child 6 years old or younger unattended in a vehicle without the supervision of someone at least 12 years old if:

  • conditions present a significant risk to a child's health or safety;
  • the keys are in the ignition; or
  • the engine is running.

If you violate this law, you may be required to pay a fine and/or attend a community education program. If the child or animal suffers injuries or death, there will be more severe criminal penalties.

California traffic offenses
  1. Passengers can get ticketed for not wearing a seat belt.

Not only can driver's get ticketed, but any passenger in a vehicle who is at least 16 years old can be cited for failing to comply with the California seat belt law. Fines range from $20 for the first offense to $50 for any subsequent violations.

  1. You can now use GPS and other map applications while driving.

As of February of 2014, California case law permits the use of a cell phone's GPS or other map feature without a hands-free device while driving.

If you have been cited for a California traffic infraction, contact us for legal assistance.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

Southern California DUI Defense attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT).


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