Vehicle Code 21663:
Driving on Sidewalks in California

California Vehicle Code 21663 prohibits motorists from driving on sidewalks. The only exception is that a motorist may drive on a sidewalk while he enters or leaves a property.

There are four important points to know about VC 21663.

  • A driver that violates this code section must pay a fine of $238.00.
  • A motorist that violates Vehicle Code 21663 VC will also receive one point on his DMV driving record. A driver could potentially get a negligent operator license suspension if he receives a certain number of points in a given time period (e.g., 4 points in 12 months, 6 points in 24 months or 8 points in 36 months).
  • Legal defenses are available if a person is accused of violating VC 21663. But, it's in the person's best interests to consult with an attorney before raising one.
  • Drivers must not ignore, or even forget about, California tickets for driving on a sidewalk. If they do, they may get charged with failure to appear, per California Vehicle Code 40508. Failure to appear, under California law, may be charged as a misdemeanor.

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

california vehicle code 21663 driving on sidewalks lawyers
California Vehicle Code 21663 prohibits motorists from driving on California sidewalks. The only exception is that a motorist may drive on a sidewalk while he enters or leaves a property.

1. Vehicle Code 21663 VC – Driving on sidewalks in California generally prohibited

California Vehicle Code 21663 states:

No person shall operate or move a motor vehicle upon a sidewalk except as may be necessary to enter or leave adjacent property.1

Vehicle Code 21114.5 does allow for the operation of electric carts on sidewalks (under limited circumstances).2

However, motor vehicles are generally not allowed on California sidewalks. The only exception is if a vehicle drives over a sidewalk while entering or leaving a property.

2. The penalties for driving on a sidewalk in California

A driver receives two penalties for violating VC 21663. These are:

  1. A fine; and,
  2. Points put on the motorist's DMV driving record.

2.1. Fine

A driver receives a ticket for violating VC 21663 and must pay a corresponding fine.

The fine for violating Vehicle Code 21663 is $238.00.3

2.2. Points on the motorist's DMV driving record

Motorists that do not comply with Vehicle Code 21663 will also receive one point on their DMV driving record.4 This is not a good thing since points assessed on a driver's record are ultimately reported to his insurance carrier. The result is that the driver's insurance rates increase for several years.

A further problem occurs when a driver receives multiple points on his driving record over a certain period of time. If a driver in California receives 4 points in 12 months, 6 points in 24 months, or 8 points in 36 months, the DMV can either suspend or revoke his driving privileges.

Please note, however, that either action will require a California DMV hearing.

california driving on sidewalks legal defense attorneys traffic
A driver can always try to beat a ticket for driving on a California sidewalk by raising a legal defense. If this is done, though, it's in the driver's best interests to contact an experienced attorney for help.

3. Legal defenses if a driver violates Vehicle Code 21663

A driver can always try to beat a ticket for driving on a California sidewalk by raising a legal defense. If this is done, though, it's in the driver's best interests to contact an experienced attorney for help.

3.1. Common defenses if accused of driving on a sidewalk

There are three common defenses if a driver is accused of violating Vehicle Code 21663. These are:

  1. The driver had to drive on a sidewalk because of an emergency;
  2. The officer issued a ticket by mistake; and/or,
  3. The motorist drove on a sidewalk to enter or leave a property.

The last defense is explicitly provided in the language of VC 21663.

Please note that no matter the defense used, a driver must support it with credible evidence. The best evidence comes from:

  • Witnesses
  • Photographs
  • Surveillance video

3.2. Contact an experienced California traffic ticket lawyer for help

It's critical for motorists to seek the help of an attorney if challenging a ticket for violating VC 21663. There are three main reasons why. These include:

  1. Prosecutors typically offer better deals to drivers with lawyers.
  2. Defense attorneys know how to get charges reduced and dismissed.
  3. If a driver has a lawyer, the driver does not have to go to court. The motorist's attorney can go on his behalf.

4. Violation of Vehicle Code 21663 VC and traffic school

Drivers that violate VC 21663 do not have to attend traffic school. But, they can elect to do so.

If a driver violates Vehicle Code 21663 and chooses to attend traffic school, he must still pay his fine of $238.00.5 However, the driver generally should not get any points on his driving record.6

Drivers can choose to attend traffic school if:

  • The driver has a valid driver's license;
  • The offense occurred while the driver was driving a noncommercial vehicle; and,
  • The ticket is for an infraction that is a moving violation.

5. Driving on a sidewalk and criminal charges

The State of California does not file criminal charges against a driver if he drives on a sidewalk. This is because it's not a crime if a motorist violates Vehicle Code 21663 VC.

Violations of VC 21663 are infractions under California law. Violators are not subject to incarceration or other criminal penalties.

driver receiving traffic ticket driving on sidewalk california
Drivers should not ignore tickets for driving on a sidewalk.

6. Ignoring a ticket for violating VC 21663

Drivers should not ignore tickets for driving on a sidewalk. Two things happen if this occurs. These are:

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

6.1. Violation of Vehicle Code 40508 VC

After receiving a traffic ticket in California, the driver is obligated to sign a written promise to appear in court. The driver promises to appear in court at a certain time and place (if he does not have an attorney – please see 3.2 above).

If the driver willfully fails to appear as promised, he violates Vehicle Code 40508 VC.7 The driver willfully fails to appear when he is willingly a no-show. It is not 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 citation.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

6.2. 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 $1,000.11

7. Driving on a sidewalk and how it impacts a personal injury lawsuit

A driver that violates VC 21663 may cause an accident with another motorist, or pedestrian, that results in an injury. If the motorist/pedestrian 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. Regarding auto accidents, negligent drivers are at fault for the accident and may have to pay for any damages caused.

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

Negligence “per se” is a legal theory in which negligence is presumed based upon a defendant's violation of a statute or ordinance

This means a driver would be negligent per se if he drove on a sidewalk since he would be in violation of VC 21663.

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.

8. Laws related to Vehicle Code 21663 VC

There are three laws related to VC 21663. These are:

  1. Unauthorized driving on trails or paths – Vehicle Code 23127;
  2. Driving on a bike lane – Vehicle Code 21209; and,
  3. Bicyclists riding on the right-hand side of the road – Vehicle Code 21202

8.1. Unauthorized driving on trails or paths – Vehicle Code 23127

Pursuant to California Vehicle Code 23127 VC, it's against the law for persons to drive "unauthorized vehicles" on California trails and paths.12

The term, "unauthorized vehicle," means any motor vehicle that is driven without the written permission of the owner of the trail or path, or, the owner's agent.13

VC 23127 applies to hiking trails, horseback riding trails, and bike paths.14

Vehicle Code 23127 VC does allow for one exception. The section states that it does not apply to the operation of an authorized emergency or maintenance vehicle.15

A person that violates Vehicle Code 23127 receives two penalties. These are:

  1. The person is guilty of a misdemeanor; and,
  2. The person receives one point on his DMV driving record.

8.2. Driving on a bike lane – Vehicle Code 21209

Motorists in California can drive a vehicle on a bicycle lane, but only in limited circumstances – per Vehicle Code 21209.

VC 21209 states that no person shall drive a vehicle in a bike lane except as follows:

  • To park where parking is permitted;
  • To enter or leave the roadway; or,
  • To prepare for a turn within 200 feet from the intersection.16

Please note that VC 21209 does not prohibit the use of motorized bicycles in bike lanes.17 Drivers of these bikes, however, must ensure that they drive at a speed that is reasonable under the circumstances.18

A driver that violates Vehicle Code 21209 receives two penalties. These include:

  1. A fine of $238.00; and,
  2. One point assessed on the motorist's DMV driving record.

8.3. Bicyclists riding on the right-hand side of the road – Vehicle Code 21202

According to Vehicle Code 21202, any person operating a bicycle on a California roadway must ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb of the roadway.19

VC 21202 does provide four exceptions to this rule. A bicyclist can disobey the rule when:

  1. Overtaking and passing another biker.
  2. Preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a driveway.
  3. Necessary to avoid unsafe conditions.
  4. Approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.20

A violation of Vehicle Code 21202 VC results in a fine of $197.00. No points are assessed to the violator's driving record.

Were you accused of driving on a sidewalk in California? Call us for help…

california driving on sideways laws lawyers attorneys
Call us for help at 855-LAWFIRM

If you or someone you know has been cited for violating VC 21663, 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.

Legal References:

  1. California Vehicle Code 21663 VC.

  2. California Vehicle Code 21114.5 VC.

  3. See DMV.org.

  4. See same.

  5. See California Courts website.

  6. See same.

  7. California Vehicle Code 40508 VC.

  8. 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.

  9. See same.

  10. California Vehicle Code 40508 VC.

  11. 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.

  12. California Vehicle Code 23127 VC.

  13. See same.

  14. See same.

  15. See same.

  16. California Vehicle Code 21209 (a)(1)-(3) VC.

  17. California Vehicle Code 21209 (b) VC.

  18. See same.

  19. California Vehicle Code 21202 (a) VC.

  20. California Vehicle Code 21202 (a)(1) – (a)(4) VC.

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