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Can a Bicyclist Get a Traffic Ticket in Los Angeles County?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Aug 03, 2015 | 0 Comments

Traffic tickets are just for those driving cars, right? Not exactly. Bicyclists use the Los Angeles County roadways too. Therefore, they can get citations for traffic violations just like motor vehicle drivers.

Bicyclists who ride on Los Angeles County public roads have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists, and are subject to the most of the same rules and regulations.  Consequently, it is a good idea for bicyclists to learn the rules of the road for California motor vehicle drivers.

There are some California traffic laws that are specific to bike riders.California Vehicle Codes 21200-21212 apply specifically to bicyclists. Some of the more pertinent rules to know are:

  • Unlike motor vehicle drivers, bicyclists are allowed, but not required, to ride on the shoulder of the road. (CVC 21202. (a))
  • Bicyclists are prohibited from riding while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both. A conviction for a violation of this section is punishable by a fine of no more than $250.00. (CVC 21200.5)
  • Bicyclists are not allowed to carry any package, bundle or article which prevents them from keeping at least one hand upon the handlebars. (CVC 21205)
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  • Bicyclists are prohibited from freeways and expressways. (21960 (a))
  • Where bike lanes exist on roadways, bicyclists are required to use them, except under certain conditions. There is no requirement to ride in a bike lane or path that is not on the roadway. (CVC 21208)
  • Local authorities are permitted to implement mandatory licensing for bicycles and prohibit unlicensed riding. (CVC 39002)
  • Bicyclists under 18 years of age must wear a bicycle helmet while riding on a public road (CVC 21212).
  • Bicyclists are required to use lights and reflectors at night. (CVC 21201)

The fine for most bicycle traffic rules, except cycling while under the influence, is $197.00.

Some California cities and municipalities have laws regarding bicycle riding on sidewalks. The City of Los Angeles allows bicycle riding on a the sidewalk unless it is done “with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property”. (LAMC 56.15) Other cities in Los Angeles County outright ban riding bicycles on the sidewalk.  Still, other cities ban riding on the sidewalk only in areas designated as “business districts”. (Read our related article, "Reckless biking is now a crime in California.")

If you have any questions or concerns regarding a bicycle traffic violation, contact us for a consultation.

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About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.

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