Failure to Signal Before Turning or Changing Lanes
(California Vehicle Code 22108)

According to California Vehicle Code 22108 VC, drivers must signal before turning or changing lanes.

There are five important points to know about violations for failure to signal:

  • Motorists must give a signal at least 100 feet before they turn or change lanes.
  • A driver that violates Vehicle Code 22108 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 not signaling 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 22108. 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 turn signal car ticket legal defense
California Vehicle Code 22108 requires all drivers to signal at least 100 feet prior to making a turn or changing lanes.

1. Vehicle Code 22108 – Motorists in California must signal before turning or changing lanes

California Vehicle Code 22108 requires all drivers to signal at least 100 feet prior to making a turn or changing lanes.1

The section states:

Any signal of intention to turn right or left shall be given continuously during the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning.2

The purpose of a signal is to give a warning to the rear driver.3

Further, once a driver signals, he does not have the absolute right of way within the road or intersection. California courts have stated otherwise and have imposed additional duties upon the signaling driver. These include a duty to:

  • Use reasonable care in the operation of a vehicle.4
  • Make proper observations.5
  • Exercise care in completing a turn to avoid collisions.6

2. The penalties for not signaling before a turn or lane change

A driver receives two penalties for violating Vehicle Code 22108 VC. These are:

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

2.1. Fine

A driver that fails to signal receives a ticket and must pay a corresponding fine.

The fine for violating VC 22108 is $238.00.7

2.2. Points on the motorist's driving record

Motorists that violate Vehicle Code 22108 will also receive one point on their DMV driving record.8 This is unfavorable. Points are ultimately reported to a driver's insurance carrier, and resultingly, the driver's 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 a certain number of points within a 1-,2- or 3-year period, the DMV can either suspend or revoke his driving privileges.

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

california turn signal traffic defense attorneys ticket help
A driver that receives a ticket for not signaling has the right to challenge the ticket.

3. Legal defenses if a driver violates Vehicle Code 22108 VC

A driver that receives a ticket for not signaling has the right to challenge the ticket. This means he can raise a legal defense to show that he was not guilty. If this is done, though, it's best for the driver to contact an attorney for help.

3.1. Common defenses for failing to signal before turning or changing lanes

There are three common defenses to a violation of Vehicle Code 22108. These are:

  1. The officer made a mistake because the driver did in fact signal.
  2. An emergency prevented the driver from signaling.
  3. There was not 100 feet of roadway for the driver to signal.

This last defense goes back to the rule that a driver must signal at least 100 feet before turning or changing lanes. If a driver gets ticketed for not signaling at the requisite 100-foot mark, a defense is that he did not have 100 feet before turning.

For example, a driver may plan on turning left after a stop sign. If there is only 50 feet from the stop sign to the left turn, the driver cannot signal 100 feet before turning.

No matter the specific defense raised, a motorist must support it with credible evidence. The best evidence to use is:

  • Witness statements;
  • Photographs; and/or,
  • Surveillance video.

3.2. Get help from an attorney

Drivers can represent themselves when trying to beat a ticket for not signaling. However, it's best for drivers to contact an experienced California traffic ticket attorney for assistance.

Hiring a lawyer for help is critical for three main reasons. These include:

  1. Prosecutors tend to give better deals to drivers with lawyers.
  2. Defense attorneys understand how to get charge reductions and dismissals.
  3. A driver with an attorney does not have to go to court. The driver's attorney can go on his behalf.
empty traffic school california
Drivers that violate VC 22108 do not have to go to traffic school. But, they can volunteer to do so.

4. Violations of Vehicle Code 22108 VC and traffic school

Drivers that violate VC 22108 do not have to go to traffic school. But, they can volunteer to do so.

Note that if a driver goes to traffic school, he must still pay the fine for his ticket.9 However, the driver generally does not receive any points on his DMV driving record.10

In general, a driver in California can volunteer for traffic school if:

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

5. Violations of VC 22108 and criminal charges

Violating Vehicle Code 22108 does not result in criminal charges. This is because it's not a crime in California if a driver does not signal.

Violations of VC 22108 are infractions under California law. As such, a driver does not have to face jail time or other criminal penalties if ticketed for a VC 22108 violation.

6. Ignoring a ticket for not signaling

Drivers should not ignore – or even forget about – a ticket for violating Vehicle Code 22108. 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.

6.1. Violation of Vehicle Code 40508 VC

If a driver gets a ticket in California, he must sign a written promise to appear in court. He promises to appear at a certain time and place.

If the driver willfully fails to appear, he violates Vehicle Code 40508 VC.11 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.12

It also does not matter whether the offending driver is guilty or innocent of the underlying traffic ticket.13 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.14

6.2. 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 $1,000.15
california traffic legal defense attorneys car crash
A driver that violates Vehicle Code 22108 may cause an accident with another motorist.

7. Failing to signal and how it effects a personal injury lawsuit

A driver that violates Vehicle Code 22108 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 not signaling because that act is in violation of VC 22108.

Please note, however, that even if a driver is negligent per se, he 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 22108 VC

There are several laws related to VC 22108. These include:

  1. Unsafe passing - Vehicle Code 21750-21759;
  2. Sudden stopping without signaling – Vehicle Code 22109; and,
  3. Proper hand signals required – Vehicle Code 22111.

8.1. Unsafe passing – Vehicle Code 21750-21759

California's main laws on improper passing and overtaking vehicles are found in Vehicle Code Sections 21750-21759 VC.

Each code section provides specific rules on overtaking vehicles, passing vehicles, or both.

In short:

  • Vehicle Code 21750 VC requires motorists to pass on the left.
  • Vehicle Code 21751 VC mandates that drivers pass to the left of center only when there is sufficient clearance.
  • Vehicle Code 21752 VC prohibits drivers from overtaking and passing on the left in specific circumstances.
  • Vehicle Code 21753 VC requires motorists that are getting passed to yield to the passing vehicle.
  • Vehicle Code 21754 VC allows drivers to overtake and pass on the right in only specific situations.
  • Vehicle Code 21755 VC provides further restrictions on right side passing.
  • Vehicle Code 21756 VC limits when drivers may pass busses and streetcars.
  • Vehicle Code 21757 VC provides further limitations with buses and streetcars and prohibits left side passing in specific situations.
  • Vehicle Code 21758 VC sets forth safety rules when motorists pass slow moving vehicles traveling on grades.
  • Vehicle Code 21759 VC requires all drivers to use caution when passing animals.16

Drivers that violate California Vehicle Code Sections 21750-21759 VC will receive:

  1. A fine of $238; and,
  2. One point assessed to the driver's DMV driving record.

8.2. Sudden stopping without signaling – Vehicle Code 22109

California Vehicle Code 22109 VC states that no person shall stop or suddenly decrease the speed of a vehicle without first giving an appropriate signal, provided there is a chance to do so.17

Under this section, a driver is required to give a signal via his hand, his arm, a signal lamp, or a mechanical device.18

A driver that violates VC 22109 will receive:

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

8.3. 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 appropriately.

California Vehicle Code 22111 VC describes what an appropriate hand signal is for turns and stops. The section states:

All required signals given by hand and arm shall be given from the left side of a vehicle in the following manner:

  1. Left turn—hand and arm extended horizontally beyond the side of the vehicle.
  2. Right turn—hand and arm extended upward beyond the side of the vehicle, except that a bicyclist may extend the right hand and arm horizontally to the right side of the bicycle.

(c) Stop or sudden decrease of speed signal—hand and arm extended downward beyond the side of the vehicle.

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 not signaling before turning or changing lanes in California? Call us for help…

call us for help at shouse law group
We can be reached 24/7 at 855-LAW-FIRM

If you or someone you know has been cited for violating VC 22108, 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-LAW-FIRM

For cases in Nevada, please visit our page on failure to signal tickets in Las Vegas, Nevada (NRS 484B.413).

Legal References:

  1. California Vehicle Code 22108 VC.

  2. See same.

  3. Coyne v. Whiffen (1933), 132 Cal. App. 699.

  4. Donahue v. Mazzoli (1938), 27 Cal. App. 2d 102.

  5. Bauer v. Davis (1941), 43 Cal. App. 2d 764.

  6. Ekwall v. Los Angeles Hat Co. (1930), 105 Cal. App. 300.

  7. See DMV.org.

  8. See same.

  9. See California Courts website.

  10. See same.

  11. California Vehicle Code 40508 VC.

  12. 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.

  13. See same.

  14. California Vehicle Code 40508 VC, endnote 1.

  15. 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.

  16. California Vehicle Code 21750-21759 VC.

  17. California Vehicle Code 22109 VC.

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

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