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Is Jaywalking Legal in California?

Posted on March 15, 2021 in Pedestrian Accidents

Jaywalking refers to a pedestrian crossing the street when it is unlawful to do so. Typically, it describes a pedestrian crossing the road somewhere other than a crosswalk between two adjacent intersections. Jaywalking is a dangerous practice that is against traffic laws in most states, including California.

California’s Jaywalking Laws

Jaywalking is illegal in California. The state has multiple laws that address the act of jaywalking and what a pedestrian may and may not do when crossing the street. It is important to understand these laws if you plan on walking or jogging in California, especially if you live in a busy city such as Los Angeles where the risk of a pedestrian accident is high.

  • California Vehicle Code Section 21955 prohibits jaywalking. It states that a pedestrian shall not cross a road between adjacent intersections that are controlled by signals or police officers at any place other than a crosswalk.
  • California Vehicle Code Section 21954 states that if a pedestrian is in the road at any place other than a crosswalk or intersection, the pedestrian must yield the right-of-way to vehicles that are close enough to constitute an immediate hazard. This law also says that the failure to yield does not relieve a driver of the duty to exercise care for the safety of the pedestrian.
  • California Vehicle Code Section 21956 says that no pedestrian may walk on a roadway when a sidewalk or crosswalk is available. If a pedestrian must walk on the road, he or she has a duty to stay as close to the right-hand edge of the roadway as possible. It is against the law for a pedestrian to walk down the middle of the road.

Staying safe as a pedestrian in California requires following these traffic regulations and paying attention to one’s surroundings. If a pedestrian ignores these rules and illegally crosses the road, he or she could face many consequences.

Can You Get Arrested for Jaywalking in California?

In general, unless you also committed another crime, such as a drunk and disorderly, you will not get arrested for jaywalking in California. Jaywalking is not a criminal offense but a traffic infraction. It is not an arrestable offense, it will not result in jail time and it will not add points to your driver’s license. Instead, you will have to pay a fine.

What Is the Penalty for Jaywalking in California?

If a police officer sees you jaywalking, you could receive a fine for breaking the state’s pedestrian walking laws. The infraction of jaywalking in California can result in a ticket of $196, plus a surcharge that can increase the fine to about $250. If you were also violating other pedestrian laws, you may have to pay a higher amount.

What if You Get Hit by a Car While Jaywalking?

The most significant risk of jaywalking is not a traffic ticket; it is getting hit by a car. Exploring Los Angeles on foot can come with significant safety hazards if a pedestrian does not obey traffic laws and rights-of-way rules. Jaywalking could place you directly in the path of an oncoming vehicle.

If the driver is not paying attention, he or she may not stop on time to avoid colliding with you. Since you were breaking one of California’s traffic laws, you may be unable to hold the driver financially responsible for your medical bills after this type of accident.

California is a comparative negligence state, meaning if you contributed to your own accident, you could still recover at least a portion of a monetary award from another party. If the driver was violating a traffic law, driving drunk, or texting and driving, for example, the driver could be partially liable for your accident even if you were jaywalking.

It is important to work with a skilled Los Angeles pedestrian accident lawyer if you get hit by a car while jaywalking in California. Your attorney can gather evidence of a driver’s share of fault to help you recover financial compensation.

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