Vehicle Code 27465b CVC is the California statute that makes it a traffic offense for a person to drive a motor vehicle with tires that have worn tire treads.
California law imposes a minimum tread depth of at least 1/8th of an inch in depth for front tires, and 1/16th of an inch in depth for rear tires. Tires with unlawful worn treads are commonly referred to as “bald tires.” A violation of this law is an infraction and is punished with a traffic ticket.
CVC 27465b states that “no person shall use on a highway a pneumatic tire on a vehicle axle when the tire has less than the following tread depth, except when temporarily installed on a disabled vehicle…”
The code section then mandates, for most vehicles, a tread depth of:
- 1/8th of an inch at all points in all major grooves on a front tire,
- 1/16th of an inch at all points in all major grooves on rear tires, and
- 3/16th of an inch tread depth at all points in all major grooves on snow tires.
Examples of violations
- driving a passenger vehicle with worn tires.
- having rear tires on a car with a tread depth under 1/16th of an inch.
- a driver using snow tires with a tire tread depth under 3/16th of an inch.
Drivers can challenge a moving violation under this California vehicle code section with a legal defense. Common defenses are for the accused to show that:
- the tire with improper treads was a spare tire being used because of an accident,
- there was an error in tread depth calculations, and/or
- he or she was operating an agricultural vehicle.
Driving a car with bald tires is a crime in California. It is charged as an infraction, which is a less serious offense than a:
- misdemeanor, or
- a felony.
The crime is punished with a traffic ticket that comes with a fine of $25.00.
A violation does not result in the DMV placing points against the motorist’s driver’s license. Note that the accumulation of points is unfavorable since it can lead to:
- a license suspension,
- a motorist getting his/her driving privileges revoked, and
- a negligent operator label.
Our California auto accident attorneys will highlight the following in this article:
- 1. What is the minimum tread depth for tires in California?
- 2. How can I challenge a CVC 27465b ticket?
- 3. What are the potential fines?
- 4. What happens if I ignore the citation?
- 5. Can this be used as evidence in a personal injury claim?
- 6. Are there laws related to this statute?
1. What is the minimum tread depth for tires in California?
This code section says that it is a traffic offense for a motorist to operate a vehicle with bald tires.
The law requires most treads to be at least:
- 1/8th of an inch in depth for tires on the steering axle of any motor vehicle, and
- 1/16th of an inch in depth for all other tires on the axles of these vehicles.1
The “tread” of a tire is that portion of the tire, consisting of the ribs and grooves, which comes in contact with the roadway.2
Note that automobile repair shops do not commit an offense under this statute if they:
- remove a tire with treads below the legal depth, and
- then later reinstall it after fixing something on the vehicle.3
Note too that this law is just one of many California laws that regulates specific parts of a vehicle. Other laws may apply to a vehicle’s:
- windshield wipers,
- new tires,
- seatbelts, and
- turn signals.
2. How can I challenge a CVC 27465b ticket?
Criminal defense lawyers use different legal tactics to contest worn tread charges. Strategies include showing that:
- the tire with improper treads was a spare tire.
- there was a mistake in tread depth calculations.
- the accused was operating an agricultural vehicle.
2.1. Spare tire
Vehicle Code 27465 specifically states that it does not apply to persons that have installed on their vehicles:
- a spare tire, and
- a spare tire because of an emergency or accident.4
It is a defense, therefore, for an accused to say that while he/she may have been driving with a worn tire, that tire was a spare.
2.2. Calculation errors
This statute involves precise measurements as to tire treads. These measurements even deal with tiny fractions of an inch. A defense, then, is for an accused to say that:
- there was an error in calculating or measuring his/her tire treads, and
- the tire treads on his/her tire were of legal depth.
2.3. Agricultural vehicle
CVC 27465d states that the law does not apply to “implements of husbandry.” An “implement of husbandry” is a vehicle that is used exclusively in the conduct of agricultural operations. This means a person will not be in violation of the law if he/she operates an agricultural vehicle with bald tires.
3. What are the potential fines?
A violation of this statute is charged as an infraction.
A driver will be issued a ticket and must pay an underlying fine of $25.00. Note that this is the base fine. The actual fine will cost much more as it includes:
- fines, and
A bald tire violation does not result in a point on the offender’s DMV driving record.
4. What happens if I ignore the citation?
It is a further California crime if a driver ignores a traffic ticket. “Ignore” here means failing to appear in court when required to address it.
A driver has to sign a written promise to appear in court if he/she is issued a traffic ticket in California.
A party commits an offense, “failure to appear” per Vehicle Code 40508 CVC, if he/she willfully breaks this promise and fails to show in court.5
A violation of this law is charged as a misdemeanor. The crime is punishable by:
- imprisonment in county jail for up to six months (as opposed to state prison), and/or
- a fine of up to $1,000.6
Note that the law applies to any traffic ticket, including tickets involving:
- headlamps, and
- license plates.
5. Can this be used as evidence in a personal injury claim?
A driver in violation of these laws may cause a traffic accident with another person. For example, a worn tire may cause a blowout which leads a driver to collide with another motorist.
In this event, if the motorist suffers injuries, he/she can file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver.
In this suit, the driver with worn tire treads may be found “negligent.”
A negligent party must compensate the plaintiff for any injuries that he/she suffered.
California law says that a driver is “negligent per se” if he/she violates a statute. In the context of CVC 27465b, this means a driver would be negligent per se in an accident if he/she:
- caused the accident and injured another party, and
- was driving a vehicle with bald tires in violation of the statute.
6. Are there laws related to this statute?
There are three laws related to driving a vehicle with bald tires. These are:
- driving a vehicle with an excessive length – CVC 35400,
- coasting in neutral – CVC 21710, and
- disobeying a sign, signal, or traffic control device – CVC 38300.
6.1. Vehicle with excessive length – CVC 35400
Vehicle Code 35400 CVC is the California statute that states a motor vehicle cannot exceed an overall length of 40 feet.
Exceptions to this law do apply with regards to:
- many commercial vehicles,
- school buses,
- truck tractors, and
Like with a worn tire tread violation, a ticket under this statute will not result in a DMV point.
6.2. Coasting in neutral – CVC 21710
Vehicle Code 21710 CVC makes it a traffic offense for a driver to coast in neutral while going downhill.
As with Vehicle Code 27465b, a violation of this statute is charged as an infraction.
6.3. Disobeying a sign, signal, or traffic control device – CVC 38300
Vehicle Code 38300 CVC is the California statute that makes it an offense for a driver to disobey any:
- traffic sign,
- signal, or
- traffic control device.
Some examples of “signs, signals, and devices” are:
- speed limits,
- crosswalks, and
- no parking in designated parking lot signs.
A traffic ticket for violating this law costs about $238, which is more than a bald tire ticket.
- California Vehicle Code 27465b CVC.
- California Vehicle Code 610.
- Alcala v. Vazmar Corp. (2008) 167 Cal.App.4th 747.
- California Vehicle Code 27465a and b CVC.
- California Vehicle Code 40508 VC.
- California Penal Code 19 PC.