Jaywalking, California Vehicle Code section 21955

The California Legislature passed Assembly Bill Number 2147, also known as “The Freedom to Walk Act,” which decriminalizes jaywalking, so long as it is safe to do so. Prior to Assembly Bill Number 2147, jaywalking could result in an infraction, and a person cited for jaywalking would face the prospect of having a jaywalking infraction on their record and having to pay a fine. While an infraction is less serious than a misdemeanor, as the penalty is a fine only without the prospect of any jail time, both are nonetheless considered offenses, and are not something that a person would want to have on their record.

Assembly Bill Number 2147

California Assembly Bill Number 2147 makes changes to California Vehicle Code section 21456. Specifically, it prohibits peace officers from stopping a pedestrian for jaywalking unless the jaywalking causes immediate danger.

California Assembly Bill Number 2147 states in pertinent part that, “Existing law imposes various duties related to the rules of the road, including, but not limited to, traffic signs, symbols, and markings, and pedestrians’ rights and duties. Existing law prohibits pedestrians from entering roadways and crosswalks, except under specified circumstances. Under existing law, a violation of these provisions is an infraction. Existing law establishes procedures for peace officers to make arrests for violations of the Vehicle Code without a warrant for offenses committed in their presence, as specified. This bill would prohibit a peace officer, as defined, from stopping a pedestrian for specified traffic infractions unless a reasonably careful person would realize there is an immediate danger of collision with a moving vehicle or other device moving exclusively by human power.”

This change should not only lead to fewer citations for jaywalking, but fewer citations for other crimes as well. That is because, if officers do not have justification to stop an individual, there will be less opportunities for law enforcement to conduct further investigation or even a search of an individual which could potentially lead to additional charges.

Jaywalking, California Vehicle Code section 21955

California Vehicle Code section 21955, states in pertinent part, “(a) Between adjacent intersections controlled by traffic control signal devices or by police officers, pedestrians shall not cross the roadway at any place except in a crosswalk.”

Subsection (b) of California Vehicle Code section 21955 specifically instructs law enforcement to not stop pedestrians who are jaywalking unless, the pedestrian is jaywalking in an unsafe manner. Specifically, “(b)(1) A peace officer…shall not stop a pedestrian for a violation of subdivision (a) [jaywalking] unless a reasonably careful person would realize there is an immediate danger of a collision with a moving vehicle or other device moving exclusively by human power.”

Subsection (2) of California Vehicle Code section 21955 states that “This subdivision does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for their safety,” while subsection (3) of California Vehicle Code section 21955 states that “This subdivision does not relieve a driver of a vehicle from the duty of exercising due care for the safety of any pedestrian within the roadway.”

Expunging an Infraction

Penal Code section 1203.4 provides a mechanism to expunge certain infractions, including but not limited to possession of marijuana, disturbing the peace, Penal Code section 415, and failure to appear, Vehicle Code section 40508. Penal Code section 1203.4 does not, however, allow expungement for traffic violations. While jaywalking can be found under the vehicle code section, it is not a driving offense. Moreover, with the recent decriminalization of jay walking, past offenders of jay walking may want to further explore how they can go about clearing their record.

For more information about the decriminalization of jaywalking, other infractions or criminal offenses, or how to clean up a prior record consisting of infractions or misdemeanor and felony convictions in Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, or Ventura County and to schedule your free consultation, contact attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at (888) 334-6344 or (323) 464-6453.

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