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July 10, 2007 > Driving fines - a correction

Driving fines - a correction

In our last issue, TCV reproduced a communication from a reader regarding new traffic laws for 2007, which proved to be inaccurate. While California publishes a Uniform Bail and Penalty Schedule, these fines and penalties are simply nonbinding recommendations. We have learned our lesson (thank you to all who emailed and called)! Below, please find the republished information and corrections found at We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused however, even if the fines were in some instances inflated, safe driving is always of primary importance regardless of fines.

1. Carpool lane - 1st time $1068.50 starting 7/1/07 (The $271 posted on the highway is old). Don't do it again because 2nd time is going to be double. 3rd time triple and 4th time license suspended.

Correction: The suggested baseline of fines for carpool violators has increased from $271 to $380.

2. Incorrect lane change - $380. Don't cross the lane on solid lines or intersections.

Correction: Though, according to the California Highway Patrol, "it is not illegal to change lanes in an intersection if it is safe to do," the recommended find for an unsafe turn or illegal lane change is $146, not $380.

3. Block intersection - $485

Correction: The recommended fine for blocking an intersection is $190.

4. Driving on the shoulder - $450

Correction: The recommended fine for unsafe passing on the right shoulder is $146, not $450.

5. Cell phone use in the construction zone. - Double fine as of 07/01/07. Cell phone use must be "hands free" while driving.

Correction: There is already a California law that allows for all traffic infraction fines to be doubled when occurring in a construction zone. The law that requires all motorists who engage in phone calls while driving must use "hands-free" devices is not in effect until July 2008.

6. Passengers over 18 not in their seatbelts - both passengers and drivers get tickets.

Correction: The driver and all other passengers must be restrained by safety belts.
If a passenger 16 or older is not restrained with a proper safety belt, the driver and/or the passenger may be cited.

7. Speeders can only drive 3 miles above the limit.

Correction: Drivers in California can be cited for speeding for driving at any rate over the maximum-posted speed limit. Still, police may not typically cite motorists until they exceed posted speed limits by 3-7 MPH.

8. DUI = JAIL (Stays on your driving record for 10 years!)

Correction: Usually, a motorist who is found to have blood alcohol content over the state limit (or who refuses to take a sobriety test) will be acquainted with the police station and spend a few hours in jail. How much jail time an offender might be sentenced to after a DUI conviction depends upon a number of factors including the severity of the offense and previous driving record. The past 10 years come into play when courts assess increased penalties for those experienced with the punishments of DUI.

9. As of 07/01/07 cell phone use must be "hands free" while driving. Ticket is $285.

Correction: The above law does not take effect until July 2008 and calls for "a base fine of $20 for a first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense."

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