21955 VC – California’s Jaywalking Laws

Vehicle Code 21955 VC is the California statute that defines the offense of jaywalking. The law requires pedestrians to stick to the crosswalks when they cross at intersections where there are traffic lights or police. A violation of this statute is an infraction that can result in a ticket that costs around $200 plus court costs.

21955 states that “between adjacent intersections controlled by traffic control signal devices or by police officers, pedestrians shall not cross the roadway at any place except in a crosswalk.”

Examples

  • crossing the street outside of a marked crosswalk,
  • crossing a road at a crosswalk when a light flashes “do not walk,” and
  • running across a street 15 feet away from a marked crosswalk.

Penalties

A violation of this statute is an infraction. This is as opposed to a California misdemeanor or a felony.

A jaywalking pedestrian can receive a ticket for the offense. The cost of the ticket is $196. This is the base fine and does not include administrative fees and assessments.

No points will be assessed to the pedestrian's DMV driving record.

Note that this code section applies in both residential and non-residential areas.

Note also that some jaywalking pedestrians do get hit by cars. If this happens, a pedestrian can still file a lawsuit against the car's driver for any injuries. But, any eventual damage award will get reduced per comparative negligence laws.

Our attorneys will discuss the following in this article:

  • 1. Is jaywalking illegal in California?
  • 2. What is the fine for a VC 21955 ticket?
  • 3. Are the rules different in residential areas?
  • 4. Can a jaywalking pedestrian who gets hit still file a lawsuit?
man jaywalking across a street, a violation of 21955 VC
Jaywalking is illegal in California

1. Is jaywalking illegal in California?

Jaywalking is illegal in California per Vehicle Code 21955 VC.

This law states that:

  1. if there is an adjoining intersection controlled by a traffic signal device, then
  2. a pedestrian shall not cross the road at a place except within a crosswalk.1

Controlled” means that:

  1. there are signals in operation, and
  2. they indicate when a pedestrian may cross the street.2

The signals often flash:

  • “walk,” or
  • “don't walk.”

They can also display a green walking man which indicates a pedestrian may cross.

Note that while jaywalking is an offense, the crime on its own does not justify an arrest.3

There are times where a pedestrian must cross a street outside of a crosswalk. If this is the case, the pedestrian must yield the right of way to any oncoming vehicles.

2. What is the fine for a VC 21955 ticket?

A pedestrian found guilty of jaywalking will:

  1. be charged with an infraction, and
  2. receive a ticket for the offense.

The ticket carries a fine of up to $196. Note that this is just the base fine. The total cost of the ticket will be much steeper because of:

  • state-mandated fees, and
  • assessments.

Note that there are no “points” associated with these tickets. This means jaywalking will not result in a point on the offender's DMV driving record.

tract houses in a residential neighborhood
Jaywalking is also illegal in residential areas...

3. Are the rules different in residential areas?

Vehicle Code 21955 applies in both residential and non-residential areas alike.

There may be less marked crosswalks in residential areas, but the law stays the same:

  1. if there is an adjoining intersection controlled by a traffic signal device, then
  2. a pedestrian shall not cross the road at a place except within a crosswalk.4

4. Can a jaywalking pedestrian who gets hit still file a lawsuit?

A jaywalking pedestrian who gets hit by a car can still file a lawsuit against the car's driver. But any eventual damage award will be reduced per the State's comparative negligence laws.

In a personal injury accident lawsuit, the plaintiff seeks money damages from the defendant. If the defendant is 100% at fault for the accident, the plaintiff can receive 100% of the damages. A different result happens though if the plaintiff was partially at fault for the accident.

Comparative negligence laws apply to these situations. The laws provide a way to divide up fault between all parties. If a defendant claims that a plaintiff partially caused an accident, then:

  1. a jury would decide what percentage of fault is due to the plaintiff's own negligence, and
  2. that percentage then reduces the plaintiff's overall award for damages.5

Example: John crosses the street near an intersection with a marked crosswalk. He is outside of the crosswalk, though, at the time he crosses.

Sue makes a turn onto the street John is crossing. She is looking at her phone and does not see John. She accidentally hits John and breaks his leg. John's injuries require immediate medical care, months of treatment, and eventual physical therapy. He suffers a total of $20,000 in damages.

John files a personal injury lawsuit against Sue to recover damages from the injury. At trial, Sue asserts that John was partially at fault for the accident since he crossed the street outside of the crosswalk. Because of this, she says that John should not receive a full damage award of $20,000.

A jury agrees. They find that John was 25% to blame for the accident. The jury then awards John with $15,000. Since he was 25% to blame, his damage award gets reduced by $5,000 (or 25% of $20,000).

Note that a plaintiff may recover certain compensatory damages in a personal injury suit. These include:

For additional help...

call center receptionists
Call us for help at (855) LAW-FIRM

For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group. For cases in Nevada, please visit our page on NRS 484B.287 - Nevada jaywalking laws.


Legal References:

  1. California Vehicle Code 21955 VC.

  2. Brown v. Regan (1938) 10 Cal.2d. 519.

  3. In re S.F. (2014) 224 Cal.App.4th 1575.

  4. California Vehicle Code 21955 VC.

  5. California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 405. See also Pfeifer v. John Crane, Inc. (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 1270.

Free attorney consultations...

The attorneys at Shouse Law Group bring more than 100 years collective experience fighting for individuals. We're ready to fight for you. Call us 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at 855-LAW-FIRM for a free case evaluation.

Regain peace of mind...

Shouse Law Defense Group has multiple locations throughout California. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

Office Locations

Shouse Law Group has multiple locations all across California, Nevada, and Colorado. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

Call us 24/7 (855) 396-0370