California Vehicle Code § 40302 CVC requires motorists to be arrested for traffic violations and taken before a judge when
- they fail to show their ID and their face, or
- refuse to give a written promise to appear in court, or
- are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Otherwise, drivers who violate traffic laws would just get a traffic citation.
The full text of the statute reads as follows:
40302. Whenever any person is arrested for any violation of this code, not declared to be a felony, the arrested person shall be taken without unnecessary delay before a magistrate within the county in which the offense charged is alleged to have been committed and who has jurisdiction of the offense and is nearest or most accessible with reference to the place where the arrest is made in any of the following cases:
(a) When the person arrested fails to present both his or her driver’s license or other satisfactory evidence of his or her identity and an unobstructed view of his or her full face for examination.
(b) When the person arrested refuses to give his or her written promise to appear in court.
(c) When the person arrested demands an immediate appearance before a magistrate.
(d) When the person arrested is charged with violating Section 23152.
Most California traffic violations are infractions where the police execute a simple traffic stop and issue a citation. But under 40302 VC, the police will arrest drivers in either of the following four circumstances:
- The traffic violation was a DUI; or
- The driver demands to see the judge right away; or
- The driver refuses to give a written promise to appear in court on the case; or
- The driver does not present his/her driver’s license and an unobstructed view of his/her full face.1
Therefore, a routine traffic stop for a minor traffic violation could result in the driver being arrested – even though minor traffic violations carry no jail time. Simply refusing to give a written promise to appear in court – and thereby rejecting the traffic citation – gives police the authority to arrest the defendant and bring him/her in front of a magistrate.
Normally, people issued a citation for a traffic infraction never have to go to court as long as they pay the fine (or hire an attorney to fight their case). And they never have to go to jail as long as they do not miss a required court date.
- California Vehicle Code 40302 CVC – Mandatory appearance before magistrate. See also People v. McKay (Cal., 2002), 27 Cal. 4th 601, 117 Cal. Rptr. 2d 236, 41 P.3d 59.
- 40302 CVC. See also Venegas v. County of Los Angeles (Cal. App. 2d Dist. 2002), 104 Cal. App. 4th 936, 128 Cal. Rptr. 2d 627.
- 40302 CVC.