California traffic laws are a duty for every responsible drivers. Drivers are expected to know the law– and need to know it to pass their driver’s and permit test. The California Vehicle Code (CVC) shows the legislative enactments codified, so that a citizen or law enforcement officer can have them at their fingertip. The Ehline Law Firm’s specialty is dealing with vehicle accident injuries, and will cover many of the most important code sections in this helpful article below. The person that caused the injuries can be sued under the tort theory of negligence per se if the Vehicle Code was violated and led to a catastrophic injury. This can include cars, trucks, and large commercial vehicles.
- 20001—Stopping at the Scene of a Roadway Accident
- 21050—Riding Animals on Roadways
- 21058—Physicians Responding to Emergencies
- 21100.3—Obeying Traffic Control Officers
- 21200—Bicycle Riders Rights and Duties
- 21208—Designated Bicycle Lanes
- 21221—Motorized Scooters
- 21224—Motor Scooter Exemptions from Vehicle Provisions
- 21228—Rules for Motorized Scooters
- 21235—Restrictions of Operation of Motorized Scooters
- 21251—Exemptions for Low-Speed Vehicles, Application of Provisions
- 21254—Modifications of Low-Speed Vehicles in Excess of 25 mph
- 21260—Low-Speed Vehicle Maximum Speed Crossing Intersections
- 21266—Low-Speed Vehicle Local Laws
- 21281.5—Safe Operation of Electric Personal Assistive Mobility Devices and Speeding
- 21451—Green Traffic Lights
- 21452—Yellow Traffic Lights
- 21453—Steady Red Lights and Red Arrows
- 21456—Walk, Don’t Walk, Wait
- 21457—Illuminated Traffic Signals or Signs Flashing Yellow or Red
- 21460—Roadway Double Lines
- 21464—Interfering with Traffic Devices
- 21650.1—Traveling Directions of Bicycles on Roadways
- 21651—Operating a Motor Vehicle on Divided Highways
- 21654—Slow Moving Vehicles
- 21655—Specified Lanes/Car Pool Lanes for High Occupancy Vehicles
- 21656—Slow Moving Vehicles Allowing Traffic To Pass
- 21658—Roadways with Lanes
- 21660—Approaching Vehicles on Roadways
- 21661—Vehicle Operation on Narrow Roadways
- 21662—Driving on Mountainous Roadways
- 21663—Driving on Sidewalks
- Driving with Obstructions
- 21701—Interfering with Drivers or Mechanisms
- 21702—Driving Hour Limitations
- 21703—Following at an Unsafe Distance
- 21706—Following Emergency Vehicles on Roadways
- 21710—Coasting in Neutral
- 21712—Illegal Towing and Riding
- 21714—Prohibited Areas for Motorcycles and Motorized Bicycles/Scooters to Travel
- 21716—Legal Operation of Golf Carts
- 21718—Leaving or Parking Vehicles on Highways or Freeways
- 21750—Passing or Overtaking Vehicles
- 21751—Insufficient Clearance When Passing
- 21752—Left Lane Driving Prohibited
- 21753—Yielding While Passing
- 21756—Passing Stopped Buses, Streetcars and Trolley’s
- 21759—Passing Animals
- 21800—Intersections with All-Direction Stop Signs or Non-Functioning Traffic Control Signs
- 21801—Right-of-Way for Left or U-Turns
- 21802—Stop Sign Laws
- 21803—Yielding to the Right-of-Way
- 21804—Entering Highway Traffic
- 21805—Equestrian Crossings on Roadways
- 21950—Crosswalks Right-of-Way
- 21952—Sidewalks Right-of-Way
- 21954—Pedestrians Not in Crosswalks
- 21957—Hitchhiking on California Roadways
- 22100—Turning on Roadways
- 22112—Stopping when Following a School Bus
- 22350—Speed Laws
- 22352—State Roadway Speed Limits
- 22400—Minimum Speed Limit Laws
- 22406—Maximum Speed Limits for Specific Motor Vehicles
- 22451—Train Crossing Signals
- 23103—Reckless Driving on Roadways
- 23109—Exhibitions of Speed and Speed Contests
- 23110—Throwing Items at Vehicles
- 23111—Throwing Items on Highways
- 23112—Throwing, dumping or depositing Items or Substances on Highways
- 23116—Flatbeds and Pickup Trucks Transporting in Back Section Application
- 23117—Enclosure or Restraint Requirements when Transporting Animals
- 23123—Use of a Wireless Telephone While Driving a Motor Vehicle
- 23124—Use of Wireless Telephones by Minors While Driving
- 23123.5—Sending or Reading of Text Based Communication While Driving a Motor Vehicle
- 23127—Use of Paths and Trails
- 23128—Use of Snowmobiles
- 23136—Blood Alcohol Level of .01 or Greater in Persons Under 21
- 23152—Blood Alcohol Percentages, Presumptions and Driving Under the Influence
- 23220—Driving of Any Vehicle While Driving
- 23222—Open Containers Containing Alcoholic Beverages or Possession of Marijuana While Driving
- 23223—Possession of an Open Container in a Vehicle
- 23224—Persons Under 21 Possession of Alcoholic Beverages in Motor Vehicles
- Sources and Citations:
Car Accident Law—California Motor Vehicle Code
By Ehline Law Firm PC – Motor Vehicle Code 20001, states that should a driver cause or is involved in an accident, he or she must immediately stop at the scene. If a driver leaves the scene by driving away, especially in the event the occupants, of the other vehicles may have been injured, while it may seem irresponsible, it is also against the law. These laws are outlined in vehicle codes 20001, 20003 and in 20004.
Motor Vehicle Code 21050, states if you ride an animal on the highway, the rider has the same rights as those drivers of motor vehicles. This also means having the same duties of care, with the exception of those that by nature cannot be applicable.
Motor Vehicle Code 21058, involves when physician’s vehicles display the insignia that indicates they are a licensed medical professional, driving to a medical emergency call. Then the driver is exempt from speeding laws.
Motor Vehicle Code 21100.3 outlines how drivers are required to obey the directions of authorized traffic control officers.
Motor Vehicle Code 21200, applies to bicycle riders on roadways, giving them all of the same rights as motor vehicle drivers, and are also subject to the duties of drivers. This includes issues like riding under the influence, although some provisions may not be applicable to bicycles, the way they are to drivers.
Motor Vehicle Code 21202, details when bicycles are moving at a speed that is less than the normal speed of traffic, which is moving within the same direction. The bicycle rider must ride as near to the right hand curb or edge of the roadway as possible, with the exception of passing, turning left or to avoid unsafe roadway conditions.
Motor Vehicle Code 21208, when enforced by local authorities designates bicycle riders must use bicycle lanes and are not permitted to leave that lane, unless it is safe.
Motor Vehicle Code 21221, outlines the driving of motor scooters having the same rights and the operator is subject to the same duties as drivers of motor vehicles.
Motor Vehicle Code 21224 outlines exemptions for the operator of a motorized scooter, as being exempt from financial responsibility laws, including registration and vehicle licensing requirements, since it is not a motor vehicle.
Motorized Scooter rules for roadways treat them on the same level as a bicycle, stating if a bicycle lane is available, the operator must stay in this lane. When a bicycle lane is not available, the operator must stay on the right-hand curb or edge of the road, with the exception of when it is unsafe.
Motor Vehicle Code 21235 outlines restrictions of operation of motorized scooters use on the street traveling in excess of 25 mph not permitted, unless there is a bike lane. The motorized scooter may not be operated on sidewalks and the operator is not permitted to carry passengers.
California Motor Vehicle Code 21251, the operator of a low-speed vehicle has all the rights as other motorists, and is subject to the same duties that apply to vehicle drivers. This includes driving under the influence; however some provisions may be exempt by their nature that are not applicable.
Motor Vehicle Code 21254, that if a low-speed vehicle is modified, then the vehicle must meet passenger vehicle federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, rather than the relaxed standards of non-modified motorized scooters.
Motor Vehicle Code 21260, details the modification of low-speed vehicles, stating they may not be operated on any roadway in excess of 35 mph, unless they are crossing a highway, and must have a speed below 35 mph at that time.
Motor Vehicle Code 21266, states that the operator of a low-speed motorized vehicle, must obet all local laws and restrictions.
Motorized Vehicle Code 2128, states that the operator of this type of vehicle must yield to the right-of-way of all pedestrians, when operating the vehicle on sidewalks, roads or paths. It also states the operator of the mobility device must operate the vehicle at a safe speed for the conditions they are traveling.
Motor Vehicle Code 21452, states that drivers with a green light, may enter an intersection and perform legally permitted turns or travel through the intersection. When the green light has a green arrow, this permits protected turns, and when not prohibited, it allows U-turns to be performed. In the event that there are not pedestrian control signals, pedestrians may begin to cross an intersection during the green light.
Motor Vehicle Code 21452, details yellow light warnings to drivers, the yellow light warns drivers that the light will soon turn red, which prohibits drivers from entering an intersection. This is also a warning to pedestrians, who are crossing without the assistance of a pedestrian dedicated control light. The pedestrian will have insufficient time to safely cross the intersection, when the light is yellow.
Motor Vehicle Code 21453, states when a driver comes to a steady red light, or red arrow, they must come to a complete stop, prior to entering intersections or crosswalks. When not prohibited right turns are permitted on solid red lights, but not arrows, but only after coming to a complete stop to ensure no hazards are present.
Motor Vehicle Code 21456, states that pedestrians will not begin crossing the roadway, when the crosswalk signal has “Don’t Walk,” or “Wait”, or if there is an upraised hand sign.
Motor Vehicle Code 21457, states that a flashing yellow traffic signal permits proceeding through an intersection, using extreme caution. Flashing red lights, should be treated by motorists as a stop sign, which they must come to a complete stop, before proceeding.
Motor Vehicle Code21460 outlines double parallel lines on roadways and crossing them is only permitted, when turning left into a private road or driveway. Making a legal U-turn or passing another vehicle, must be done on broken lines.
Motor Vehicle Code 21464, states that official traffic signs or devices, shall not be altered or defaced by any individual. It is illegal to sell, install or own mobile infrared transmitters and other devices that may alter traffic signals.
Motor Vehicle Code 21650.1, states that bicyclists should ride in the same direction as traffic.
Motor Vehicle Code 21651, states roadways that have multiple lanes, with two way traffic requires drivers to be on the right side of the road.
Motor Vehicle Code 21654, says the vehicle operator should stay at the right side of the roadway, when traveling in the same direction as traffic, but at a slower speed.
Motor Vehicle Code 21655, states that vehicles should not enter car pool lanes, even when attempting to pass another vehicle, unless the vehicle is transporting the minimum required amount of passengers required by law. Vehicle operators should not cross double yellow lines in order to enter the car pool lane.
Motor Vehicle Code 21656, states that on two lane roadways, when passing on the left side is unsafe, the slow traveling vehicle, with five vehicles behind it, must turn into a designated turnaround, in order to let the other vehicles pass by.
Motor Vehicle Code 21658, states that when operating a vehicle on roadways with lanes, the driver must be completely in one lane when there are multiple lanes in the same direction. Switching lanes is only permitted, when it is safe to do so and the vehicle operator must obey all signs for lanes that have specific purposes.
Motor Vehicle Code 21660 specifies that operators of motor vehicles must pass each other on the right and provide at least half of the roadway, when possible.
Motor Vehicle Code 21661, states on narrow roadways the driver traveling downhill, is to give right-of-way to the vehicle traveling uphill, and that they will turn off of the roadway to make room for safe passing, when necessary.
Motor Vehicle Code 21662, states that operators of motor vehicles must be in control at all times and drive as close to the right of the roadway, when possible. Horns should be used to warn other drivers when approaching, if within 200 feet of a curve on a narrow roadway that has an obstructed view.
Motor Vehicle Code 21663, states that driving on sidewalks is not permitted, unless entering or exiting a property or it is expressly permitted.
Motor Vehicle Code 21700 specifies drivers are not permitted to load a vehicle, in a way that it obstructs or interferes with the driver’s vision or control of the vehicle.
Motor Vehicle Code 21700, states that it is not permitted to interfere with the driver of a vehicle or the mechanisms in any way that may affect the control of the vehicle operator.
Motor Vehicle Code 21702, states that the operators of buses or other vehicles transporting passengers for compensation, are not permitted to drive more than 10 hours in a 24 hour period, unless they have had 8 hours of consecutive rest. It is not permitted for any commercial driver to drive more than 12 consecutive hours or 12 hours spread over a 15 hour period.
Motor Vehicle Code 21703, states that vehicle drivers must leave a safe distance between their vehicle and the one traveling in front of them. They must also consider speed, traffic, road conditions and a general duty to safety.
Motor Vehicle Code 21706, states that drivers of motor vehicles should not follow emergency vehicles within 300 feet.
Motor Vehicle Code 21710, says that no driver shall coast in neutral, when traveling downhill, and doing so, is illegal.
Motor Vehicle Code 21712, says that it is illegal to have passengers sit in any part of a vehicle that is not made for passengers to sit, or to tow a trailer, coach or motorcycle, while it contains passengers.
Motor Vehicle Code 21714, states that it is illegal for motorcycles or motorized bicycles/ scooters to travel between two or more vehicles traveling in adjacent lanes or immediately adjacent to markers designating lanes.
Motor Vehicle Code 21716, states that golf carts may legally be operated only on roadways where the speed limit is 25 mph or less.
Motor Vehicle Code 21718, says driver’s are permitted to stop on freeways or highways, if told to do so by a police officer, to avoid injury, where specifically permitted or doing emergency maintenance.
Motor Vehicle Code 21750, says when it is safe to overtake or pass a vehicle or bicycle that is traveling in front of your vehicle, and traveling in the same direction, it should be done on the left. The driver passing or overtaking another should allow them enough space on the roadway to operate the vehicle or bicycle normally and safely.
Motor Vehicle Code 21751, states that a vehicle can only pass when the driver can see clearly that it is safe, and when they have sufficient clearance to overtake the vehicle in front, on four and two lane roadways.
Motor Vehicle Code 21752, states that no vehicle drivers will travel on the left side of the road, when approaching a curve or crest, where drivers of other vehicles view is obstructed. This is also illegal to do within 100 feet of an intersection, railroad grade, bridge or tunnel.
21753—Yielding While Passing
California Motor Vehicle Code 21756 says the driver of a vehicle must stop, when a vehicle in front of them is discharging or picking up passengers, unless there is a specifically designed safety zone to do so.
Motor Vehicle Code 21759 says that drivers should slow their speed and obey any traffic signals by a person in charge of animals, to pass safely.
Motor Vehicle Code 21800 states that when entering an intersection, with all-direction stop signs, when entering the intersection at the same time, the driver on you should yield right of way to the driver on your right. When there is a broken traffic control device, the driver should stop at the intersection and proceed, when it is safe to do so.
Motor Vehicle Code 211801 states the driver making a left or U-turn, driver’s should always yield to the right-of-way to oncoming traffic, when there is not a green arrow that provides them right-of-way.
Motor Vehicle Code 21802 states that approaching stop signs, the vehicle driver should slow their speed and come to a complete stop at intersections with stop signs.
Motor Vehicle Code 21803 states the driver must yield when there is a yield sign or indication of one. This will include when merging onto roadways, or in the event of a vehicle crossing in front of yours.
Motor Vehicle Code 21804 says that when a driver, is entering onto a highway from private or public property, or an alley, the driver has to yield to the right-of-way to close approaching traffic that is already traveling on the highway.
Motor Vehicle Code 21805 states horseback riders, are permitted to cross roadways at officially designated crossing areas, but should use caution. The driver of a motor vehicle must yield to the right-of-way to horses at designated crossing points.
Motor Vehicle Code 21950 states pedestrians have the right-of-way at crosswalks and drivers have the duty to exercise care, when pedestrians are crossing the roadway legally. When pedestrians are crossing the road illegally, driver’s still should use care in driving.
The California Motor Vehicle Code 21952 states, pedestrians have the right-of-way on sidewalks, if a driver is driving upon the sidewalk for any reason, including entering or exiting driveways.
Motor Vehicle Code 21954 states that pedestrians outside of crosswalks should yield to the right-of-way to vehicles. The drivers of vehicles have the duty to drive with care to ensure the safety of pedestrians outside of crosswalks.
Motor Vehicle Code 21957 states that hitchhiking, or standing on the roadway to solicit a ride is illegal in California.
Motor Vehicle Code 22100 says that making U-turns at intersections may only be done when it is permitted at the intersection. U-turns are not permitted to be made near fire station driveways, in residential districts if another vehicle is approaching, or on streets that have obstructed views.
Motor Vehicle Code 22112 says that vehicles following school buses, must stop behind the bus and are not permitted to pass, when the school bus is loading or unloading and has flashing red lights and a stop sign.
Motor Vehicle Code 22350 states that drivers must travel at a speed that is appropriate for the roadway and weather conditions. It is illegal in California to exceed the marked speed limit on a roadway.
Motor Vehicle Code 22352 states that drivers must follow the required speed limit, unless it is otherwise posted. At railway crossings and intersections with obstructed views, the speed limit is 15 mph and in alleys. Residential areas, school zones, near playgrounds and near senior citizen facilities the speed limit is 25 mph.
Motor Vehicle Code 22400 states drivers should not drive at a decreased speed limit that interferes or impedes normal traffic and the vehicle becomes a safety hazard on the roadway.
Motor Vehicle Code 22406 states that vehicles with more than three axels, school buses transporting any passengers, vehicles towing other vehicles, farm labor vehicles trailer buses, and vehicles transporting explosives are not permitted to travel over 55 mph.
Motor Vehicle Code 22451 states that vehicles must stop no less than 15 feet from train rails and only proceed when it is safe to cross. When train crossings have protective gates drivers are never permitted to pass through, around or under them.
Motor Vehicle Code 23301 says that drivers on highways, freeways, residential areas and parking lots will be considered driving recklessly, when they show a willful disregard for the safety of property or persons.
Motor Vehicle Code 23109 states that clocking high speeds, racing or assisting in a race, is illegal and punishable by fines and jail time.
Motor Vehicle Code 23110 states that no one should throw anything at vehicles and doing so, will result in misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the damages caused by the action.
Motor Vehicle Code 23111 says that it is illegal to throw any items on highways, including garbage, cigarettes whether lit or unlit and any other items or substances, or on adjoining areas.
Motor Vehicle Code 23112 states that it is illegal for the driver, passenger or pedestrian to throw, dump or deposit any items or substances on highways.
Motor Vehicle Code 23116 states that it is not permitted to transport unrestrained passengers in the back of a pickup truck or flatbed truck, unless the vehicle is on a farm, in a law enforcement approved and supervised parade or during an emergency.
Motor Vehicle Code 23117 states that it is not legal to transport animals in the back of vehicles, without having the space enclosed. The vehicle must have side and tail racks at least 46 inches high, in order to prevent animals from falling, escaping or being thrown from the vehicle. This regulation does not apply when traveling with a dog for farming reasons or transporting cattle.
Motor Vehicle Code 23123 states that it is not permitted by law to use a wireless telephone, unless it has been designed and configured to be used in a hands-free manner. Use of the telephone to call police or medical personnel is permitted.
Motor Vehicle Code 23124 states that drivers, who are under the age of 18 are not permitted to use a wireless telephone, even if it is designed and configured to be hands-free.
Motor Vehicle Code 23123.5 states that it is not permitted to write or read text based communications while driving.
Motor Vehicle Code 23127 says that operators of motor vehicles are not to operate a vehicle on a hiking trail, bike path or horse trail where signs prohibit this, unless the driver has written permission from the owner of the trail. Bike paths, which are adjacent and bordering roadways are an exception.
Motor Vehicle Code 23128 states that it is not permissible to hunt or harass animals while on a snowmobile. It is not permissible to operate the snowmobile in a way that is dangerous to a person or their property. Snowmobiles are not permitted on highways.
Motor Vehicle Code 23136 states that a driver under the age of 21 with a blood alcohol concentration of .01 or greater is not legally permitted to drive.
Motor Vehicle Code 23152 says that drivers are not permitted to drive while under the influence of foreign substances, and no person addicted to a drug is permitted to drive, unless they are in a rehab. Drivers with a blood alcohol concentration level of .08 or greater will be charged with a DUI. Operators of commercial vehicles are not legally permitted to drive with a blood alcohol concentration level of .04 or greater.
Motor Vehicle Code 23220 states that it is not permissible for the drinking of any alcoholic beverages while driving or as a passenger in any type of vehicle on the highway.
Motor Vehicle Code 23222 states that it is illegal to possess open containers of alcohol while driving or have possession of more than one avoirdupois ounce of marijuana.
Motor Vehicle Code 23223 says that it is illegal for drivers or passengers to possess open containers in a motor vehicle on a roadway or highway.
Motor Vehicle Code 23224 states that it is illegal for drivers or passengers under the age of 21 to posses alcoholic beverages in their vehicle, without being accompanied by a parent or responsible adult relative, who has been designated by the parents. If you have questions about these Motor Vehicle Codes, have been cited, arrested or been the victim of an accident involving the violation of one of the codes, contact the Ehline Law Firm PC at 888-400-9721. Legal Notice: “Know the California Rules for Roadways” is for reference and interest only, it is not meant to be any form of legal advice.
This is not an all inclusive document of California Motor Vehicle Code laws and is only offered as a guide to assist in providing statutory provisions you may want to read in their entirety. This is not to be used as a means to apply a particular code to any ticket, incident or accident. If you require legal advice, you need to consult a licensed California attorney, who can provide the particular facts and legal guidance under California law to protect your rights.