Vehicle Code § 22109 CVC is the California statute that prohibits motorists from stopping or suddenly decreasing the speed of a vehicle without first giving an appropriate signal, provided there is a chance to do so.
A violation of this code section is punishable by a $238 fine. Note too that drivers that fail to follow this statute may become victims of rear-end auto collisions.
The language of the statute reads:
22109. No person shall stop or suddenly decrease the speed of a vehicle on a highway without first giving an appropriate signal in the manner provided in this chapter to the driver of any vehicle immediately to the rear when there is opportunity to give the signal.
Examples of unlawful acts
- stopping an auto without giving an appropriate hand signal.
- slamming on a motor vehicle’s brakes with inoperable brake lights.
- quickly halting a pick-up truck near crosswalks or stop signs without any type of corresponding arm signal.
The driver of any vehicle can fight a charge under this law by asserting a legal defense. A few effective defenses include the driver showing that:
- there was no chance to give a signal,
- he/she did not stop suddenly, and/or
- the police made a mistake.
The traffic offense is punishable by:
- a maximum fine of $238, and
- one point assessed to the driver’s DMV driving record.
Our California auto accident attorneys will discuss the following in this article:
- 1. When is it an offense to stop suddenly without signaling?
- 2. Can a driver raise a legal defense?
- 3. What are the penalties?
- 4. Who is at fault in a rear-end collision where a driver violates VC 22109?
- 5. Are there related offenses?
1. When is it an offense to stop suddenly without signaling?
CVC 22109 makes it an offense for a driver to:
- stop or suddenly decrease the speed of a vehicle, and
- do so without first giving an appropriate signal, provided there is a chance to do so.1
Under this code section, a driver is required to give a signal via:
- his/her hand,
- his/her arm,
- a signal lamp, or
- a mechanical device.2
Note that this statute applies to both drivers of autos and bicyclists.3
2. Can a driver raise a legal defense?
Our traffic attorneys advise clients that there are three effective defenses to stopping without signaling tickets. These include a driver showing that:
- he/she did not have a chance to signal.
- he/she did not stop suddenly.
- the police made a mistake.
2.1 No chance to signal
Recall that a person is only guilty under this statute if:
- he/she failed to signal, and
- there was an opportunity to do so.
A defense, then, is for a driver to show that he/she did not have a chance to provide a signal.4 Perhaps, for example, a driver stopped suddenly because of an emergency.
2.2 No sudden stop
These laws apply to the situation when a driver makes a sudden stop. Therefore, it is always a defense to say that he/she did not stop suddenly. Perhaps, for example, the motorist stopped gradually.5
2.3 Police made a mistake
Police officers do make mistakes and falsely accuse drivers of traffic offenses. An accused, therefore, can always try to show that a stopping officer made a mistake in a charge because the driver provided a clear signal.
3. What are the penalties?
A driver that violates VC 22109 will receive:
- a fine of $238.00, and
- one point assessed to his/her DMV driving record.
Note that a driver can face a license suspension if he/she receives too many points in a given time period.
4. Who is at fault in a rear-end collision where a driver violates VC 22109?
If a motorist stops suddenly without signaling, and resultantly gets hit in the rear by another driver, then the motorist that violated VC 22109 is likely at fault for the collision.
Note that this is contrary to the general rule under California law that says in most rear-end motor vehicle accidents, the rear driver is at fault for the accident.
Other exceptions to the rule apply if the lead driver was driving recklessly, including:
- reversing into the rear car,
- drunk driving, or
- intentionally trying to get hit.
Note also that an at-fault party in a traffic accident is both:
- negligent for causing the collision, and
- has to compensate any persons injured in the accident for their losses.
5. Are there related offenses?
There are three traffic offenses related to this statute. These are:
- failure to signal before turning or changing traffic lanes – VC 22108,
- unsafe lane changes – VC 22107, and
- illegal U-turns – VC 22100.5.
5.1 Failure to signal before turning or changing lanes – VC 22108
According to California Vehicle Code 22108 VC, drivers must signal before turning or changing lanes.
As with VC 22109, a driver can make an appropriate signal using his/her hand or a signal lamp.
5.2 Unsafe lane changes – VC 22107
Vehicle Code 22107 VC is the California statute prohibiting unsafe lane changes. Under this section, drivers can only change lanes when safe and only after signaling.
The penalties for violating this law are the same as if a person violates VC 22109.
5.3 Illegal U-turns – VC 22100.5
Vehicle Code 22100.5 VC is the California statute that prohibits making a U-turn at a controlled intersection with a “no U-turn” sign.
Note that if a driver makes a sudden stop prior to an illegal turn, and does so while failing to signal of such, then he/she can be charged under both:
- VC 22109, and
- VC 22100.5.
For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney, we invite you to contact our law firm at the Shouse Law Group.
- California Vehicle Code 22109 VC.
- Fueste v. Johnson (1962) 207 Cal. App. 2d 790.
- Wright v. Sniffin (1947) 80 Cal. App. 2d 358.
- See, e.g., Sweeney v. Pozarelli (1964) 228 Cal. App. 2d 585.
- See, e.g., Smith v. Philip Morris Co. (1951) 107 Cal. App. 2d 361.