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California Traffic Ticket Law Blog

Autopilot is not to blame if you have had one too many drinks

Drunk driving a self-driving car sounds like an oxymoron. Last month in two separate incidents in California both drivers blamed their vehicle for the crashes. In both cases the drivers told authorities they were not driving, the cars were. It can feel like a leap of faith to take your feet off the pedals and let the car continue moving on its own. Although self-driving vehicles are supposed to


Studies vary on Uber's success against drunk driving

California drivers have been sharing the roads with Uber and Lyft drivers for more than five years, and while the companies claim to be a scourge to drunk driving, some scientists are not convinced. Researchers have had varied results when studying the effects of ride-sharing services have had on the rates of drunk driving in an area.

According to Fortune, a 2015 study conducted by Uber and Mothers Against Drunk Driving found that California counties that were serviced by Uber had 60 fewer car crashes each month by drivers under the age of 30 since July 2012. However, independent studies have not always agreed with these findings. A study published in July 2016 found that after comparing traffic data from before and after Uber and its competitors arrived in over 100 major metro areas across the U.S., there was no discernible difference in alcohol-related accidents or accident rates taken as a whole. This study provides a sharp contrast to the claims Uber has made on its contributions to the safety of the communities it services. 

Alcohol tests and drivers' rights

In today's politically heated society, controversy over rights on roadways has become an increasingly relevant topic. Injustice and the tension between drivers and police officers takes most of the spotlight, but other issues involving drivers' rights are a major topic of debate, as well. In California, few drivers know the details of their rights on the road. Even though legal details can become complex, state laws protect drivers from unneccessary searches and other unlawful procedures. 

ABC 10 News discusses the recent controversy surrounding a Utah nurse who refused to draw the blood of an unconcious patient, which ultimately brought to attention the disagreement over drivers' rights in the country. The patient of the nurse had been in a car accident that left another driver dead, but the nurse claimed that, under hospital policy, she was not allowed to take the blood of patients who had been in accidents. To the nation's shock, the nurse was arrested; debate on the rights of patients and the extent of police intervention has thus taken the media by storm in recent weeks. But what, ABC asks, are drivers' actual rights when it comes to testing for blood alcohol concentration? The report offers the following points:

  • The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unlawful searches -- warrants may only take place upon probable cause
  • Any person with a driver's license must consent in writing to submit a chemical, blood, breath or urine test, but only if under lawful arrest for driving while under the influence (this law is also known as California's 'implied consent' law)
  • A driver does have a choice between a blood and breath test, and police are required to notify the driver of this choice        

Drive hands-free or pay the fee

As most drivers know, texting while driving is against the law in California. Yet the laws go further than texting, and it is worth making sure drivers in the Golden State understand exactly what is--and is not--allowed when they get behind the wheel.

As the Sacremento Bee reports, 2017 marked the beginning of a new state law that bans holding a cell phone while driving for any reason. Not only is texting while driving outlawed, this means it is unlawful to use any apps for music or social media with the device in hand while on the road, and taking photos or video is also outlawed. Phones are able to be used while driving in hands-free mode only, but they must be in a holster mounting on the driver's console, dashboard or on the windshield, so drivers who may need GPS to get where they are going are not totally at a loss. Lawmakers hope that this will make it easier for law enforcement officers to pull over drivers who are breaking the law.

Driving primer: Speed limits in California

Drivers around the world, whether in California or on the Autobahn, have to follow the laws and rules of the road. These laws and rules are in place to keep people as safe as possible. When you don't follow them, you can receive a ticket (or worse, of course, when accidents occur). This means that you will have to come out of pocket to pay a fine. You might have to appear in court. If you get enough tickets, it can impact your ability to legally drive.

One common traffic violation that people face in California is speeding. The speed limits on the roads here are set according to the maximum speed that people can drive without it becoming overly dangerous.

Understanding types of traffic tickets

Whether you have a driver's license from California or another state, if you drive in the state of California, it is important for you to understand some of the basic traffic laws. That also means you should understand the different types of citations that you may receive and what to expect with each. 

As explained by the California Courts, parking tickets are not actually handled through any court system but just directly through the municipality or other entity that issues the tickets. When it comes to other things like speeding or driving on a suspended license, however, this is where a court may get involved. Some tickets that you might receive could be deemed misdemeanors but others could be deemed infractions. Misdemeanors are more serious than infractions.

Solano County creates program other counties may want

It would almost be impossible to think that there could be a person in California who has never received even so much as one traffic ticket. To some, getting that occasional speeding ticket may seem annoying but can be chalked up to a normal thing. However, for many people the fines that go along with even the most minor infraction can be simply unpayable because their budgets do not have this kind of extra income.

Too many Californians end up having their licenses suspended and having additional fees added onto what they owe the state if they don't pay a first fine on time. This only makes the prospect of them being able to pay their fine even less likely. Earlier this summer the state legislature banned the practice of suspending drivers' licenses simply because they haven't paid tickets. However, Solana County recently made a decision that goes a whole lot further and offers a lot more relief to people. Its approach is something other counties in the state may be wanting to watch or implement.

Defining preliminary alcohol-screening tests

The common school of thought among many in Encino is that law enforcement officers cannot force them to do anything that they do not consent to. That assumption may be true in most cases, yet not when it applies to situations where one is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. When one becomes licensed to drive in California, he or she essentially enters into a contract with the state that stipulates, in exchange for the privilege of driving, he or she agrees to submit to chemical testing to confirm whether or not he or she may be impaired. 

The terms of this contract (known legally as the "implied consent law") can be found in Section 23612 of the California Vehicle Code. It classifies chemical testing as being a measurement of any of the following: 

  • Blood
  • Breath
  • Urine

New tests look for drugged drivers

Now that voters in California have decided that marijuana will be legal for recreational use, some lawmakers are trying to regulate what that means in relation to traffic safety. The Associated Press reports that three large California counties are piloting a testing program that uses a driver's saliva to see if there are any drugs present in their system.

But everyone is not convinced that the test is conclusive. For example, at least one member of the California Highway Patrol believes that neither saliva or breath tests are accurate enough to use. For alcohol, any amount below .08 blood alcohol is legal. However, there is currently not a level deemed acceptable of any drug in a driver's system, which means that the law has not yet determined what level constitutes driving while intoxicated. Despite these concerns, a judge in Kern County accepted the results of a saliva-based drug detection test as evidence in a case last year.

Why are California speeding tickets so expensive?

Millions of Americans have received and dealt with traffic citations, especially speeding tickets, that ended up crippling their wallets. Whether such pricey citations actually encourage drivers to reduce speeds is uncertain, but the amount of money violators must pay is a largely disputed topic. California has particularly costly speeding penalties, and while the law enforces equal penalties to speeding drivers, some experts claim that such tickets target poor residents and are spent toward unethical purposes.

According to LA Weekly, California's state Legistlature has gradually increased fees in order to raise revenues without having to go through the obstacles of raising taxes. In fact, the article states that tickets of initially $100 can now cost up to $490 -- three times the national average for a similar citation. On top of this crippling number, late fees for speeding tickets in the state are an extra $300. For the past 15 years, the Legislature has been using this source to increase revenue without having to pass new taxes, which in turn creates a regressive tax in its disproportionately affecting the poor.

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