Failure to Stop at a Stop Sign in California
(Vehicle Code 22450 VC)

stop sign on an empty road
California Vehicle Code 22450 VC states that drivers must stop at stop signs.

California Vehicle Code 22450 VC states that drivers must stop at stop signs. This code section also imposes specific rules on exactly where motorists must stop at intersections and railway crossings.

Under California law, rolling stops are not permissible. Vehicle Code 22450 VC says that drivers must come to complete stops.

There are five key things to know about traffic tickets under this section:

  • The fine for a violation is $238, plus court costs and assessments.
  • A person cited for failing to stop under VC 22450 can (a) pay the fine, (b) do traffic school (once every 18 months) or (c) fight the ticket in court.
  • If you complete traffic school or fight the ticket successfully, you will avoid getting points on your DMV record. Otherwise, this is a "one point" violation. You risk getting a negligent operator license suspension if you get 4 points in 12 months, 6 points in 24 months or 8 points in 36 months.
  • An attorney can be hired to handle the case in court. If so, the client does not need to be present in court.
  • Ignoring the ticket (neither paying the fine nor going to court) will likely result in being charged with failure to appear per Vehicle Code 40508. Although failing to stop at a stop sign is just an infraction, failure to appear can be charged as a misdemeanor crime. It can also result in a hold on your drivers license per Vehicle Code 40509.5.

1. Is it illegal to run a stop sign in California under Vehicle Code 22450?

Vehicle Code 22450 VC says that drivers in California must stop at stop signs. Drivers are also required to stop at specific points before intersections and railway crossings that have stop signs. Further, complete stops are required under the law.

1.1 Where do I stop when at an intersection?

Vehicle Code 22450 (a) reads:

The driver of any vehicle approaching a stop sign at the entrance to, or within, an intersection shall stop at a limit line, if marked, otherwise before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection.

If there is no limit line or crosswalk, the driver shall stop at the entrance to the intersecting roadway.1

This means that if a California driver is entering an intersection with a stop sign, he must stop at the first of the following:

  • The limit line, if present
  • A crosswalk, if present
  • The intersecting street

Please note that a limit line is a white line that is painted on the road either next to or in front of a stop sign.

1.2 Where do I stop when at a railway crossing?

Vehicle Code 22450 (b) states:

The driver of a vehicle approaching a stop sign at a railroad grade crossing shall stop at a limit line, if marked, otherwise before crossing the first track or entrance to the railroad grade crossing.2

This means that if a driver in California is approaching a railway crossing with a stop sign, he must stop at the first of the following:

  • The limit line, if present
  • The first track or the entrance to the railroad grade crossing

1.3 How long must I stop for?

California law says that all drivers must come to a complete stop when stopping at stop signs.

A complete stop is when a vehicle is at a speed of zero. The vehicle is not moving forward.

Rolling stops (or so-called "California stops") are not permissible under VC 22450. A rolling stop is when a vehicle does not come to a complete stop. The vehicle is still in motion, even at the slightest of speeds.

Some people often believe that there is a "three-second rule" in California that mandates all drivers to stop for at least three seconds at stop signs. This is not true. However, the longer a motorist stops means the better chance that he will not receive a ticket.

2. Are there legal defenses if I'm accused of violating Vehicle Code 22450?

There are legal defenses that motorists can raise if they're accused of violating VC 22450. It's in the best interest of motorists to consult with an attorney before raising such a defense.

2.1 What are the legal defenses?

There are four common legal defenses to accusations of violating Vehicle Code 22450 VC. These include:

  1. There was no stop sign present at the intersection or railway crossing.
  2. The stop sign was hidden, or the limit line was faded.
  3. The officer was wrong in believing that no stop was made.
  4. A motorist failed to stop because of an emergency or to avoid a crash.

It's important to note that, if a driver raises any of these defenses, it's helpful to have photos or witness statements that support the driver's claims.

2.2 Do I need an attorney if accused of violating Vehicle Code 22450?

Motorists can represent themselves when fighting a ticket for failing to stop at a stop sign. But, it's recommended that anyone charged with a traffic violation hire an experienced lawyer to represent them.

It's advantageous to hire an attorney for three main reasons. These are:

  1. Prosecutors tend to offer better deals to defendants with lawyers.
  2. Defense attorneys are knowledgeable on how to get charge reductions and dismissals.
  3. Defendants with defense lawyers do not have to go to court.

3. What are the penalties for violating Vehicle Code 22450?

There are two penalties for violating VC 22450. The two are:

  1. A traffic ticket; and,
  2. Points on the driver's driving record.

Violators of this code section do not have to attend traffic school. But, they can choose to do so if they're authorized.

3.1 How much is a ticket for violating VC 22450?

A violator of Vehicle Code 22450 will receive a traffic ticket. The cost of this ticket is approximately $238.3

3.2 How many points are put on my driving record?

Violators of Vehicle Code 22450 will receive one point on their DMV driving record.4

Points assessed on a motorist's record are reported to that motorist's insurance carrier. The result is typically an increase in the driver's insurance rates for several years.

If a person accumulates a certain number of points within a 1-,2- or 3-year period in California, the DMV can declare that person a negligent operator. If this is done, the DMV can suspend or even revoke that person's driving privileges. Either action requires a California DMV hearing.

3.3 Do I have to go to traffic school?

Motorists that violate Vehicle Code 22450 VC do not have to attend traffic school.

Drivers, though, can voluntarily choose to do so. Generally, you can go to traffic school if:

  1. You have a valid driver's license;
  2. The offense occurred while driving a noncommercial vehicle; and,
  3. Your ticket is for an infraction that is a moving violation.5

If a driver elects to go to traffic school, he must still pay his traffic fine.6 However, the driver generally should not get any points on his driving record if he completes the school.7

4. Is it a crime to violate Vehicle Code 22450 VC?

It is not a crime if a person violates VC 22450.

These violations are infractions under California law and an offender is not subject to incarceration.

5. What happens if I ignore a ticket for violating VC 22450?

Two things happen if you ignore a ticket for violating Vehicle Code 22450 VC. These are:

  1. You violate a new law, California Vehicle Code 40508 VC, for the failure to appear in court on a traffic citation; and,
  2. You may receive penalties for violating VC 40508.

5.1 What is the violation of Vehicle Code 40508 VC?

When you get issued a traffic ticket in California, the officer will have you sign a written promise to appear at the time and place specified.

If you willfully fail to appear as promised, you violate Vehicle Code 40508 VC.8 You willfully fail to appear when you are willingly a no-show. It doesn't matter if you didn't intend to break the law.9

Nor does it matter whether you're guilty or innocent of the underlying traffic citation.10 You violate Vehicle Code 40508 just by breaking a promise to:

  • Appear in court,
  • Appear to pay bail,
  • Pay bail in installments,
  • Pay a fine within the time authorized, or
  • Comply with any condition of the court.11

5.2 What are the penalties for violating VC 40508?

Violation of Vehicle Code 40508 VC is a misdemeanor. The penalties are:

  • Up to six months in county jail, and/or
  • A fine of up to $1,000.12

6. What is the effect of a VC 22450 violation on a personal injury lawsuit?

A driver who runs a stop sign and thereby causes an accident is likely to be found negligent in a personal injury lawsuit.

California law defines "negligence" as the failure to use reasonable care to prevent harm to oneself or to others. In the context of California car accident laws, the negligent driver is at fault for the accident. Further, the negligent driver may have to pay for any damages caused.

Proving negligence in a personal injury case is sometimes difficult. In California though, a driver is considered "negligent per se" if he violates a statute. This means a driver would be negligent per se for violating VC 22450.

Please note, however, that even if a driver is negligent per se, the driver may still be able to recover for any damages he incurs. This is because of California's comparative fault laws.

7. Are there laws related to Vehicle Code 22450?

There are three laws related to VC 22450. These are:

  1. California Vehicle Code 21802 (a) VC;
  2. California Vehicle Code 21803 (a) VC; and,
  3. California Vehicle Code 21453 (a) VC.

7.1 What is California Vehicle Code 21802 (a) VC?

VC 21802 (a) requires California drivers to yield to other motorists at stop signs.

Vehicle Code 21802 (a) VC states:

The driver of any vehicle approaching a stop sign at the entrance to, or within, an intersection shall stop as required by Section 22450. The driver shall then yield the right-of-way to any vehicles which have approached from another highway, or which are approaching so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard, and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to those vehicles until he or she can proceed with reasonable safety.13

For purposes of this section, "yield" means to let other road users go first.

The section includes the phrases "immediate hazard" and "reasonable safety." These are typically determined by the facts of a case. Further, they provide motorists with the possible grounds to contest a traffic ticket.

A violation of this code section typically results in two things. These include the violator receiving:

  1. A traffic ticket of $238; and,
  2. One point on his driving record.

As with persons accused of violating Vehicle Code 22450 VC, a person accused of violating VC 21802 (a) may contest the accusations by raising a legal defense.

7.2 What is California Vehicle Code 21803 (a) VC?

VC 21803 (a) requires other California drivers to yield at yield signs.

Vehicle Code 21803 (a) VC states:

The driver of any vehicle approaching any intersection which is controlled by a yield right-of-way sign shall, upon arriving at the sign, yield the right-of-way to any vehicles which have entered the intersection, or which are approaching on the intersecting highway close enough to constitute an immediate hazard, and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to those vehicles until he or she can proceed with reasonable safety.14

As with VC 21802 (a), "yield" under this section means to let other road users go first.

Also, the phrases "immediate hazard" and "reasonable safety" are typically determined by the facts of a case. Further, they provide motorists with the possible grounds to contest a traffic ticket.

A violation of this code section typically results in two things. The violator will receive:

  1. A traffic ticket of $238; and,
  2. One point on his driving record.

As with persons accused of violating Vehicle Code 22450 VC, a person accused of violating VC 21803 (a) may contest the accusations by raising a legal defense.

7.3 What is California Code 21453 (a) VC?

Vehicle Code 21453(a) requires California drivers to stop at red lights.

Vehicle Code 21453(a) states:

A driver facing a steady circular red signal alone shall stop at a marked limit line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection, and shall remain stopped until an indication to proceed is shown, except as provided in subdivision (b).15

A violation of this code section typically results in two things. The violator will receive:

  1. A traffic ticket of $490-$525; and,
  2. One point on his driving record.

As with persons accused of violating Vehicle Code 22450 VC, a person accused of violating VC 21453(a) may contest the accusations by raising a legal defense.

Call us for help…

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Call us for help

If you or someone you know has been cited for running a stop sign, or has been injured in an accident in California, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. We can be reached 24/7 at 855-LawFirm.

If your case is in Nevada, please see our article on fighting a ticket in Las Vegas for running a stop sign (NRS 484B.257).
 

We will respond to your inquiry promptly to discuss your case.

References

  1. California Vehicle Code 22450(a) VC.
  2. California Vehicle Code 22450(b) VC.
  3. See DMV.org.
  4. See DMV.org.
  5. See California Courts website.
  6. See same.
  7. See same.
  8. California Vehicle Code 40508 VC.
  9. CALCRIM 2240, endnote 1: 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.
  10. See same.
  11. California Vehicle Code 40508 VC, endnote 1.
  12. California Penal Code 19 PC. Except in cases where a different punishment is prescribed by any law of this state, every offense declared to be a misdemeanor is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both.
  13. California Vehicle Code 21802 (a) VC.
  14. California Vehicle Code 21803 (a) VC.
  15. California Vehicle Code 21453(a) VC.

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