California Vehicle Code 21950 CVC requires drivers in California to yield to pedestrians crossing a roadway within any marked or unmarked crosswalk.
There are five important points to know about the failure to yield in California.
- While CVC 21950 requires drivers to yield to pedestrians, it also imposes on pedestrians a duty to exercise due care when crossing a roadway.
- Legal defenses exist for those accused of violating VC 21950 and violators can hire an attorney to fight any charge(s).
- The fine for violating Vehicle Code 21950 is $238.
- A driver that fails to yield will also receive one point on his DMV record. You risk getting a negligent operator license suspension if you get 4 points in 12 months, 6 points in 24 months or 8 points in 36 months.
- Drivers cannot ignore a California ticket for violating Vehicle Code 21950. This act will likely result in a charge of failure to appear, per Vehicle Code 40508 VC, which can be charged as a misdemeanor.
- Violating this section and actually striking a pedestrian is likely to lead to a civil lawsuit for hitting and injuring a pedestrian.
In the article below, our California auto accident attorneys will address:
- 1. Must drivers yield to pedestrians in California?
- 2. Are there legal defenses if a motorist violates Vehicle Code 21950 VC?
- 3. What are the penalties if I fail to yield to a pedestrian?
- 4. Do I have to attend traffic school if I violate Vehicle Code 21950 VC?
- 5. Is it a crime if I fail to yield to a pedestrian?
- 6. What happens if I ignore a ticket for violating VC 21950?
- 7. What is the effect of violating VC 21950 on a personal injury lawsuit?
- 8. Are there laws related to Vehicle Code 21950?
1. Must drivers yield to pedestrians in California?
Vehicle Code 21950 requires motorists to yield to pedestrians. The section also places specific responsibilities on the part of drivers and pedestrians alike. For failure to yield to another vehicle cases, please see our page on Vehicle Code 21800 21801 21802 21803 and 21804 failure to yield to other motorists in California and Vehicle Code 21806 failure to yield to emergency vehicles. Another related traffic section is Vehicle Code 21709, making it illegal to drive through designated “safety zones” set aside for pedestrian use.
1.1 What is required of drivers?
VC 21950 (a) states:
The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.1
VC 21950 (c) places additional responsibilities on motorists in that it requires drivers to exercise due care when approaching pedestrians.2
That section states:
The driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian within any marked or unmarked crosswalk shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other action relating to the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian.3
A Driver that speeds up to beat a pedestrian to a crosswalk would violate VC 21950 (C). This is a violation since the driver would not be using due care.
1.2 What is required of pedestrians?
Vehicle Code 21950 does not leave pedestrians free from responsibilities. VC 21950 (b) specifically states that: “This section does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety.”4
Under VC 21950 (b), pedestrians may not run in front of approaching vehicles so as to cause a hazard.5
Further, pedestrians must continue walking when in a crosswalk. No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.6
2. Are there legal defenses if a motorist violates Vehicle Code 21950 VC?
There are legal defenses if a motorist fails to yield to a pedestrian. It’s in the motorist’s best interests, though, to consult with an attorney before raising one.
2.1 What are the most common defenses?
There are two common defenses if a driver is accused of violating Vehicle Code 21950. These are:
- The officer issuing the ticket was mistaken for the driver did sufficiently yield; and,
- The pedestrian was in the wrong.
The latter defense challenges a violation on the grounds of Vehicle Code 21950 (b). Recall that this section requires pedestrians to exercise due care. It’s a solid legal defense for a motorist to convey that a pedestrian did not use the requisite due care under VC 21950 (b).
2.2 Do I need an attorney?
Drivers can represent themselves when fighting a California ticket for failing to yield to a pedestrian. But, it’s recommended that anyone charged with this violation hire an experienced lawyer to represent them.
It’s advantageous to hire an attorney for three main reasons. These are:
- Prosecutors tend to offer better deals to defendants with lawyers.
- Defense attorneys are knowledgeable on how to get charge reductions and dismissals.
- Defendants with defense lawyers do not have to go to court.
3. What are the penalties if I fail to yield to a pedestrian?
Drivers that violate Vehicle Code 21950 VC will receive:
- A fine of $238; and,
- One point assessed to the driver’s DMV driving record.7
Please note that points assessed on a motorist’s record are reported to that motorist’s insurance carrier. The result is typically an increase in the driver’s insurance rates for several years.
If a person accumulates a certain number of points within a 1-,2- or 3-year period in California, the DMV can declare that person a negligent operator. If this is done, the DMV can suspend or even revoke that person’s driving privileges. Either action requires a California DMV hearing.
4. Do I have to attend traffic school if I violate Vehicle Code 21950 VC?
Motorists that violate VC 21950 do not have to attend traffic school.
Drivers, though, can voluntarily choose to do so. Generally, you can go to traffic school if:
- You have a valid driver’s license;
- The offense occurred while driving a noncommercial vehicle; and,
- Your ticket is for an infraction that is a moving violation.
If a driver elects to go to traffic school, he must still pay his traffic fine.8 However, the driver generally should not get any points on his driving record if he completes the school.9
5. Is it a crime if I fail to yield to a pedestrian?
It is not a crime if a motorist violates Vehicle Code 21950 VC.
These violations are infractions under California law and an offender is not subject to incarceration.
6. What happens if I ignore a ticket for violating VC 21950?
Two things happen if you ignore a ticket for failing to yield to a pedestrian. These are:
- You violate a new law, Vehicle Code 40508 VC, for the failure to appear in court on a traffic citation; and,
- You may receive penalties for violating VC 40508.
6.1 What is the violation of Vehicle Code 40508 VC
When you are issued a traffic ticket in California, the officer will have you sign a written promise to appear at the time and place specified.
If you willfully fail to appear as promised, you violate Vehicle Code 40508 VC.10 You willfully fail to appear when you are willingly a no-show. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t intend to break the law.11
Nor does it matter whether you’re guilty or innocent of the underlying traffic citation.12 You violate Vehicle Code 40508 just by breaking a promise to:
- Appear in court,
- Appear to pay bail,
- Pay bail in installments,
- Pay a fine within the time authorized, or
- Comply with any condition of the court.13
6.2 What are the penalties for violating Vehicle Code 40508 VC?
Violation of Vehicle Code 40508 VC is a misdemeanor. The penalties are:
- Up to six months in county jail, and/or
- A fine of up to $1,000.14
7. What is the effect of violating VC 21950 on a personal injury lawsuit?
A driver who violates Vehicle Code 21950 VC, and thereby causes an accident or injures a pedestrian, may be found negligent in a personal injury lawsuit.
California law defines “negligence” as the failure to use reasonable care to prevent harm to oneself or to others. In the context of an auto accident or an injury to a pedestrian, the negligent driver is at fault for the accident/injury and may have to pay for any damages caused.
Negligence “per se” is a legal theory in which negligence is presumed based upon a defendant’s violation of a statute or ordinance
This means a driver would be negligent per se if he failed to yield to a pedestrian since he would be in violation of VC 21950.
Please note, however, that even if a driver is negligent per se, the driver may still be able to recover for any damages he incurs. This is because of California’s comparative fault laws.
8. Are there laws related to Vehicle Code 21950?
There are three laws related to VC 21950. These are:
- California’s “speeding laws;”
- Stopping at stop signs; and,
- California’s reckless driving law.
8.1 What are California’s “speeding laws?”
“Speeding laws” refers to those California laws that impose penalties on motorists if driving too fast. Some of these include:
- The basic speeding law
- Absolute speed limits
- “Prima facie” speed limits
- Driving over 70 miles per hour
- Speeding in a construction zone
- Excessive speed on a freeway
- Driving over 100 miles per hour
Penalties for violating these speeding laws typically include a fine and points assessed on the motorist’s DMV driving record.
As to fines, the exact amount of a speeding ticket will depend on the speed at which the driver was driving. The amount will also include a base fine, fees, and penalty assessments.
If a driver exceeds the speed limit, but wasn’t driving more than 100 miles per hour, then the base fine of a ticket will be:
- $35 if faster than the limit by 1 to 15 miles per hour
- $70 if faster than the limit by 16 to 25 miles per hour
- $100 if faster than the limit by 26 miles per hour
8.2 Must drivers in California stop at stop signs?
California Vehicle Code 22450 VC states that motorists cannot run stop signs.
This means that if a California driver is entering an intersection with a stop sign, he must stop.15 And, he must stop at the first of the followings:
- A marked line
- A crosswalk
- The approaching street16
Complete stops are required. Rolling stops are not permissible under VC 22450. A rolling stop is when a vehicle is still in motion, even at the slightest of speeds.
The penalties for running a stop sign in California include:
- A traffic ticket and an approximate fine of $238; and,
- One point on the driver’s DMV driving record.
8.3 What is reckless driving under California law?
California Vehicle Code 23103 is the State’s law on reckless driving. It makes it a crime to drive with wanton disregard for the safety of people or property.17
If no one other than the reckless driver is injured in the incident, VC 23101 is a California misdemeanor. It can be punished at most by:
- Five to 90 days in county jail, and/or,
- A fine of between $145 and $1,000.18
But the possible jail sentence and fine increase if the reckless driving causes an injury.19
And any reckless driving conviction will add two points to the driver’s California DMV record.
For more help…
If you or someone you know has been cited for a violation of VC 21950, or has been injured in an accident in California, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.
- California Vehicle Code 21950 (a) VC.
- California Vehicle Code 21950 (c) VC.
- See same.
- California Vehicle Code 21950 (b).
- See same. See also Vehicle Code 21954 CVC.
- California Vehicle Code 21950 (b) VC.
- See California DMV.
- See California Courts website.
- See same.
- California Vehicle Code 40508 VC.
- CALCRIM 2240, endnote 1: Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. It is not required that he or she intend to break the law, hurt someone else, or gain any advantage.
- See same.
- California Vehicle Code 40508 VC, endnote 1.
- California Penal Code 19 PC. Except in cases where a different punishment is prescribed by any law of this state, every offense declared to be a misdemeanor is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both.
- California Vehicle Code 22450 VC.
- See same.
- California Vehicle Code 23103 VC:“(a): A person who drives a vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.(b) A person who drives a vehicle in an off-street parking facility, as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 12500, in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.”
- Vehicle Code 23103(c): “Except as otherwise provided in Section 40008, persons convicted of the offense of reckless driving shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for not less than five days nor more than 90 days or by a fine of not less than one hundred forty-five dollars ($145) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment, except as provided in Section 23104 or 23105.”
- California Vehicle Code 23104 (a) VC: “Except as provided in subdivision (b), whenever reckless driving of a vehicle proximately causes bodily injury to a person other than the driver, the person driving the vehicle shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than 30 days nor more than six months or by a fine of not less than two hundred twenty dollars ($220) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment.”