Vehicle Code 22106 CVC – Unsafe Starting or Backing

Vehicle Code 22106 CVC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a motorist to start a vehicle that is stopped on a highway or street, or back a vehicle onto a highway or street, unless it can be done with “reasonable safety.” Whether an act can be done with “reasonable safety” is determined by the facts of a case. A violation of this law is an infraction that can result in a ticket and a point on the driver's DMV driving record.

CVC 22106 reads that “no person shall start a vehicle stopped, standing, or parked on a highway, nor shall any person back a vehicle on a highway until such movement can be made with reasonable safety.”


  • backing a car onto a street at a fast speed without looking
  • starting a parked car on a highway and spinning the car's wheels before going forward
  • starting a vehicle on a street and speeding forward without using turning signals


A defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge a traffic ticket under this statute. Common defenses include:

  • the accused exercised reasonable safety,
  • there was an emergency, and/or
  • a mechanical problem caused an unsafe movement.


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

The offense is punishable by:

  • a ticket and a fine, and
  • one point on the driver's DMV driving record.

The DMV can do the following if a person earns enough points within a 1-, 2- or 3-year period:

Our criminal defense and personal injury attorneys will discuss the following in this article:

woman backing up her car as an example of what could be a CVC 22106 violation
CVC 22106 makes it a crime to back a vehicle on a highway unless it can be made with reasonable safety.

1. What does CVC 22106 prohibit?

California's rules of the road say that it is a crime if a motorist:

  • starts a vehicle stopped, standing, or parked on a highway, or
  • backs a vehicle on a highway, unless
  • such movement can be made with reasonable safety.1

Whether a motorist can start or back a vehicle with “reasonable safety” is determined by all of the facts of a case.2

Note that a “highway” includes a street. According to California code 360:

“Highway is a way or place of whatever nature, publicly maintained and open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel. Highway includes street.

(Enacted by Stats. 1959, Ch. 3.)”3

2. How can a person fight the ticket?

Defense lawyers, and law firms, draw on several legal strategies to challenge traffic infractions under Vehicle Code 22106. These include showing that:

  1. the defendant exercised reasonable safety.
  2. there was an emergency.
  3. there was a mechanical problem with the vehicle.

2.1. Reasonable safety

Recall that a driver is only guilty under these laws if he/she starts or backs a car without exercising reasonable safety. This means a defendant can always use the defense that he/she safely started or backed a vehicle.

2.2. Emergency

Emergencies often occur and they can force motorists to drive “unsafely.” Common emergencies involve:

  • medical situations,
  • unfavorable work situations, and
  • fires.

A driver can always challenge a CVC 22106 ticket by showing that he/she was forced to move a vehicle in an unsafe manner because of an emergency.

2.3. Mechanical problem

Cars and trucks frequently experience mechanical issues on the road. These issues can make it difficult at times for drivers to appropriately operate a vehicle. Therefore, an accused can always try to contest a charge under this statute by saying that:

  1. he/she made an unsafe movement with a vehicle, but
  2. a mechanical problem with the car caused him/her to do so.
police officer issuing a traffic ticket to a female motorist
A violation of this statute can result in a fine and/or a point placed on your DMV driving record.

3. What are the fines and penalties?

There are two penalties for violating this statute. These are:

  1. a ticket (usually in an amount of $237), and
  2. one point placed on the motorist's DMV driving record.

The DMV can do the following if a person earns enough points within a 1-, 2- or 3-year period:

  • declare him a negligent operator, and
  • suspend, or even revoke, his driving privileges.

4. Is it a crime if a driver ignores a traffic ticket?

A driver that ignores a speeding ticket violates Vehicle Code 40508 VC. This is the State's statute on the failure to appear in court on a traffic citation.

When a person is issued a traffic ticket in California, he/she has to sign a written promise to appear in court.

If the party willfully fails to appear as promised, he/she violates VC 40508.4 Drivers willfully fail to appear when they are willingly a no-show. It does not matter if they did not intend to break the law.5

A violation of Vehicle Code 40508 is a misdemeanor. The penalties are:

5. Are there related traffic laws?

There are three laws related to the unsafe starting/backing a vehicle on a street. These are:

  1. Illegal U-turns – VC 22100.5,
  2. DUI – CVC 23152a, and
  3. Crossing a divided highway – CVC 21651a.

5.1. Illegal U-turns – VC 22100.5

Vehicle Code 22100.5 VC makes certain U-turns illegal.

This section says it is illegal for motorists to make U-turns at controlled intersections with signs prohibiting them.

Like CVC 22106, a violation of this law results in a ticket and a fine of nearly $240.

5.2. DUI - VC 23152a

Vehicle Code 23152(a) VC is the California DUI law that makes it a crime to operate a motor vehicle "under the influence" of alcohol.

"Under the influence" means that:

  1. a driver's physical or mental abilities are impaired, and
  2. he/she can no longer drive as well as a cautious sober person.

Sometimes a driver violates Vehicle Code 22106 because he/she is intoxicated. In this situation, the motorist can be charged with both:

  • DUI, and
  • Unsafe starting/backing a vehicle.

5.3. Crossing a divided highway – VC 21651a

Vehicle Code 21651a VC prohibits drivers from driving on, or crossing over, the dividing section on a divided California roadway. The section also restricts turns on divided roadways.

Like CVC 22106, a violation of this law results in a driver receiving one point on his/her driving record.

For additional help...

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For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.

Legal References:

  1. California Vehicle Code 22106 CVC.

  2. Smith v. Harger (1948) 84 Cal. App.2d 361.

  3. California Vehicle Code 360.

  4. California Vehicle Code 40508 VC.

  5. CALCRIM 2240: 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.

  6. California Penal Code 19 PC.

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