Vehicle Code 22107
(Unsafe Lane Changes in California)

California Vehicle Code 22107 VC is the State's statute prohibiting unsafe lane changes. Under VC 22107, drivers can only change lanes when safe and only after signaling.

There are five important points to know about Vehicle Code 22107.

  • The code section applies to both changing lanes, as well as when drivers move right or left from a direct course.
  • A driver that violates Vehicle Code 22107 is guilty of an infraction and must pay a fine of $238.00.
  • A motorist that does not signal also receives one point on his DMV driving record. A driver risks getting a negligent operator license suspension if he receives 4 points in 12 months, 6 points in 24 months or 8 points in 36 months.
  • Drivers can challenge a ticket for violating VC 22107 by raising a legal defense. It's best, though, for drivers to consult with an attorney before doing so.
  • Motorists cannot ignore tickets for violating Vehicle Code 22107. This results in the violation of a new law, failure to appear, pursuant to California Vehicle Code 40508. This violation may be charged as a misdemeanor.

Our California personal injury attorneys will highlight the following in this article:

california unsafe lane changes law
California Vehicle Code 22107 VC is the State's statute prohibiting unsafe lane changes. Under PC 22107, drivers can only change lanes when safe and only after signaling.

1. Vehicle Code 22107 – Rules on when motorists can change lanes and drive right or left from center

California Vehicle Code 22107 VC applies to two situations. These are when drivers either:

  1. Change lanes; or,
  2. Steer their vehicle right or left from center.1

VC 22107 states that motorists can only perform these acts when:

  • It is reasonably safe to do so; and,
  • They give appropriate signal.2

The determination as to when it is reasonable safe to change lanes, or steer right or left, is based upon all the facts of a given case.

Appropriate signals include a turn signal or a signal by hand.3

2. The penalties for violating VC 22107

A driver receives two penalties for violating Vehicle Code 22107. These are:

  1. A fine of $238.00; and,
  2. One point assessed on his DMV driving record.4

Please note that points are not a good thing because they ultimately get reported to a driver's insurance carrier. The result is that the driver's rates increase for several years.

Further, a driver risks getting a negligent operator license suspension if he receives 4 points in 12 months, 6 points in 24 months or 8 points in 36 months. A California DMV hearing though is required before a suspension can take place.

3. Legal defenses if a driver violates Vehicle Code 22107

A driver that receives a ticket for an unsafe lane change can raise a legal defense to show that he was innocent. If this is done, though, it's best for the driver to contact an attorney for help.

There are two common defenses to a violation of Vehicle Code 22107. These are:

  1. A turn was in fact safe under the circumstances.
  2. An emergency required the driver to change lanes unsafely.

4. Violations of Vehicle Code 22107 VC and traffic school

Drivers that violate VC 22107 do not have to go to traffic school. But, they can volunteer to do so.

If a driver goes to traffic school, he must still pay the fine for his ticket.5 However, the driver generally does not receive any points on his DMV driving record.6

do not ignore ticket california traffic law
Drivers cannot ignore a ticket for violating Vehicle Code 22107

5. Ignoring tickets for unsafe lane changes

Drivers cannot ignore a ticket for violating Vehicle Code 22107. Two things result if this happens. These are:

  1. The driver violates California Vehicle Code 40508 VC, for the failure to appear in court on a traffic citation; and,
  2. The driver receives penalties for violating VC 40508.

5.1. Violation of Vehicle Code 40508

If a driver gets a ticket in California, he must sign a written promise to appear in court.

If the driver willfully fails to appear, he violates Vehicle Code 40508 VC.7 The driver willfully fails to appear when he is willingly a no-show. It's not even a defense if the driver did not intend to break the law.8

It also does not matter whether the offending driver is guilty or innocent of the underlying traffic ticket.9 He violates 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.10

5.2. Penalties for violating VC 40508

A violation of Vehicle Code 40508 VC is a misdemeanor. The penalties include:

  • Up to six months in county jail, and/or
  • A fine of up to $1,000.11

6. Unsafe lane changes and how they affect a personal injury lawsuit

A driver that violates Vehicle Code 22107 may cause an accident with another motorist. If the motorist is injured and later files a personal injury lawsuit against the driver, the driver may be found "negligent."

California law defines "negligence" as the failure to use reasonable care to prevent harm to oneself or to others. When it comes to auto accidents, negligent drivers are considered at fault for the accident and they may have to pay for any damages caused.

Proving negligence in a personal injury case can sometimes be difficult. But, in California, a driver is considered "negligent per se" if he violates a statute.

Negligence “per se” is a type of legal theory. It presumes a driver is negligent if he violates a statute or ordinance

This means a driver would be negligent per se for an unsafe lane change because that act is in violation of VC 22107.

7. Laws related to Vehicle Code 22107 VC

There are several laws related to VC 22107. These include:

  1. Signaling before turning or changing lanes – Vehicle Code 22108;
  2. Sudden stopping without signaling – Vehicle Code 22109; and,
  3. Proper hand signals required – Vehicle Code 22111.

7.1. Signaling before turning or changing lanes – Vehicle Code 22108

California Vehicle Code 22108 requires all drivers to signal 100 feet before turning or changing lanes.12

Drivers that violate this code section will receive:

  1. A fine of $238; and,
  2. One point assessed to their DMV driving record.

7.2. Sudden stopping without signaling – Vehicle Code 22109

California Vehicle Code 22109 states that no person shall stop or suddenly decrease the speed of a vehicle without first giving an appropriate signal.13

Under this section, a driver is required to give a signal via his hand, his arm, a signal lamp, or a mechanical device.14

A driver that violates VC 22109 will receive:

  1. A fine of $238.00 and,
  2. One point assessed to his DMV driving record.

7.3. Proper hand signals required – Vehicle Code 22111

A driver is not limited to his vehicle's turn signal to warn drivers of his actions. Drivers can use hand signals to indicate when they are:

  • Turning left
  • Turning right
  • Stopping or suddenly decreasing their speed

If, however, a driver chooses to use a hand signal, the signal must be given according to the rules within Vehicle Code 22111.

A driver that does not signal in compliance with VC 22111 receives two penalties. These include:

  1. A fine of $238.00
  2. One point assessed to his DMV driving record.

Were you accused of an unsafe lane change in California? Call us for help…

California traffic legal experts attorneys
Call us for help at 855-LAW-FIRM

If you or someone you know has been cited for violating VC 22107, 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. (For similar cases in Nevada, please visit our page on Failure to Signal Tickets in Nevada).

Legal References:

  1. Vehicle Code 22107 VC.

  2. See same.

  3. Vehicle Code 22111 VC.

  4. See same.

  5. See the California Courts website.

  6. See same.

  7. Vehicle Code 40508 VC.

  8. CALCRIM 2240, endnote 1.

  9. See same.

  10. Vehicle Code 40508 VC, endnote 1.

  11. California Penal Code 19 PC.

  12. Vehicle Code 22108 VC.

  13. Vehicle Code 22109 VC.

  14. Fueste v. Johnson (1962), 207 Cal. App. 2d 790.

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