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4 California Bike Laws you Probably Don’t Know About

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Do you spend a lot of time biking in California? If so, there are some California bike laws you’re probably not familiar with.

Bikes and Crosswalks

Did you know that as a cyclist, you’re not supposed to stop your bike in the middle of a crosswalk? When you’re on a bike, you need to treat it the exact same way you would if you driving a car. Instead of pulling into the crosswalk, you’re supposed to stop at it. This gives pedestrians the opportunity and space needed to use the crosswalk.

Prep Your Bike For Nighttime Rides

If you’re cycling at any time between dusk and full-on morning sunlight, you need to have your bike properly equipped with enough equipment that motorists can easily see your bike. It’s not enough to simply rely on the reflectors the bike came with You should also have a red solid or flashing light attached to the back of your bike that can be easily seen from a distance of 500 feet away. On the front of your bike, you need to attach a white light that not only helps with your visibility but can also be seen from 500 feet away.

Ideally, you should wear clothing that has reflectors on it as well.

Keep One Ear Open

You see it all the time, cyclists cruising along with headphones in their ears, taking advantage of their ride to listen to audiobooks, songs, and podcasts. What you probably don’t know is that you can’t legally have two ears full of earbuds or be covered by a headphone while you’re cycling. CVC 27400 states that you must leave one ear uncovered while you’re riding your bike.

Stay Away from that Oversized Bike

If you think it’s okay to send your child out on the bike they haven’t quite grown into, or you’re tempted to purchase a massive bike you’ve been admiring each time you visit your favorite bike shop, you need to think again. California’s bike laws prohibit you from operating an oversized bicycle on public roads.

CVC 21201(c) states that, “no person shall operate upon a highway a bicycle that is of a size that prevents the operator from safely stopping the bicycle, supporting it in an upright position with at least one foot on the ground, and restarting it safely.

Were you familiar with these bike laws?

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The Legal Ins and Outs of Street Racing in California

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Street racing is fun. It’s exciting. It might even seem like a good idea. It’s also the type of fun that can land you in a great deal of legal trouble.

California lawmakers believe that street racing is reckless and dangerous behavior which is why they’ve created strict laws. The hope is that the laws are enough to convince you to give street racing a pass and look for a different, legal way, to get your kicks.

It’s important to understand that California lawmakers are cracking down on all types of street racing. You aren’t allowed to drag race, drift, or engage in a straight-up speed race while you’re on a public road. If you want to race, find a private racetrack.

At this point, street racing is a misdemeanor in California. Don’t assume that just because it’s a misdemeanor that you’ll get away with a reprimand. The potential consequences of first-time offense for street racing in California include:

✦ 40 hours of required community service
✦ Losing your driver’s license for between 90 days and 6 months
✦ Serving between 1 day and 90 days in county ail
✦ A fine that ranges from $355-$1000
✦ Potentially having your vehicle impounded for 30 days (which means 30 days of impound fees)

You probably already guess, the consequences are worse after the first time you’re convicted of street racing in California.

If less than 5 years have passed since your first street racing conviction, the consequences can include:

✨ A mandatory 6-month suspension of your driver’s license
✨ Serving 4 days to 6 months in the county jail
✨ Paying fines that could range from $500-$1000
✨ High impound fees

Many street racers are caught because someone is hurt during the race which means medical personal and police arrive on the scene. Not only do the injuries bring law enforcement, but the injury also means significantly worse consequences to everyone who was busted on the California street racing scene.

Street racers who are caught in a race that resulted in minor injuries can be sentenced to 30 days up to 6 months, have their license suspended, be required to do a significant amount of community services, and be issued fines of $500 to $1,000.

When a person is seriously injured as a result of a street race in California, you could be sentenced to 16 months to 3 years in jail, lose your driving privileges for a long time, and be required to pay as much as $10,000 in fines. It’s also likely that you’ll be named as the defendant in a civil lawsuit.

If someone passes away because of injuries sustained in a street race, you could be charged with vehicular manslaughter.

In many cases, street racing is just one of the charges you’ll face when you’re arrested for street racing in California. Additional charges that are frequently added to the street racing charges include:

✦ Reckless endangerment
✦ Reckless driving
✦ Evading the police
✦ Speeding
✦ Failure to yield
✦ Etc.

When you consider the potential consequences of street racing in California, it really is in your best interest to take the time to find a private race track where you can legally race to your heart’s content.

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Littering in California

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You already know that you’re not supposed to litter. It’s common knowledge that you shouldn’t throw things out your car windows, leave trash scattered around a campsite, or drop food wrappers while you’re walking.

What you might not know is exactly what happens if you fail to do the right thing and clean up after yourself.

California’s littering laws are some of the toughest in the country.

California lawmakers created California Penal Code (PC) 374 specifically to deal with the issue of littering. The great thing about this law is that not only does it create clear-cut consequences for littering, it also helps define what is a waste product, which helps clear up some of the gray areas other states struggle with when dealing with littering cases.

The law defines littering in California as, “littering means the willful or negligent throwing, dropping, placing, depositing, or sweeping, or causing any such acts, of any waste matter on land or water in other than appropriate storage containers or areas designated for such purposes.”

The law goes on to clarify that the following items are considered waste and that improperly disposing of them is considered littering:

✨ Lighted or nonlighted cigarette, cigar, match, or any flaming or glowing material
✨ Garbage/trash
✨ Refuse
✨ Paper
✨ Packaging/construction material
✨ The carcass of a dead animal
✨ Any nauseous or offensive matter
✨ Any object that’s likely to injure any person or create a traffic hazard.

While the law does a nice job of stating what litter is, it’s not as helpful when it comes to the consequences associated with getting caught littering.

The first thing you have to understand is that the consequences for throwing fast-food wrappers out your window are going to be significantly different than leaving a mattress in a ditch, or failing to dispose of hazardous waste.

At this point, littering is treated as an infraction, not a misdemeanor. Don’t assume that the lack of jail time means you can litter to your heart’s content. Fines for littering can range from $100-$750 depending on how many times you’ve been cited for littering and what type of materials were involved in the littering infraction. You’ll also be required to complete anywhere from 8-24 hours of community service.

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Streaking Laws in California

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Streaking is one of those things that usually seems like a good idea at the time and generates quite a few laughs. Unfortunately, it’s also something that can draw the attention of the law and land the streaker in some legal hot water. There had been a time when streakers were able to quickly pull clothing on and basically remain anonymous, but now that so many people share videos of streaking incidents, the odds of identifying you and alerting the authorities are quite high.

While streaking may seem like a bit of harmless fun to you, California’s lawmakers aren’t amused by the behavior. They consider streaking a form of indecent exposure, which makes it a criminal act.

The issue of indecent exposure and by extension streaking is dealt with in California’s Penal Code 314 PC. The part of the code the specifically pertains to streaking incidents states that anyone who, “Procures, counsels, or assists any person so to expose himself or take part in any model artist exhibition, or to make any other exhibition of himself to public view, or the view of any number of persons, such as is offensive to decency, or is adapted to excite to vicious or lewd thoughts or acts,” is guilty of indecent exposure.

Streaking can also be a violation of California’s Penal Code Section 647(a) which was written to deal with lewd actions.

The good news is that indecent exposure convictions are only a misdemeanor, which means that the maximum sentence you would face is a six-month stay in the county jail and a $1,000 fine. There’s also a good chance you would be required to do some community service work and be put on probation. As scary as that sounds, the part that can really alter the course of your life is that you could be registered as a Tier-One sex offender.

California has set up different tiers for sex offenders. If you’re registered as a Tier-One sex offender, you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor or non-violent felony sex offense. You have the opportunity to be removed from the list 10 years after your conviction but as long as you remain on the list, you could find that your sex offender status makes it extremely difficult to get a job or procure housing.

Given how badly registration on the sex offender list could damage your future, it is in your best interest to remain clothed, no matter how strong the temptation to streak is.

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What Happens if You Fail to Pay Your Child Support Payments

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The consequences of failing to make your court-mandated child support payments run deep. The matter is taken very seriously. Consequences include:

● Arrest

● Fines

● Being in contempt of court

● Denial of tax refunds

● Wage garnishment – when the court orders your employer to withhold a certain amount of your paycheck and send it directly to the court or the partner instead

● Confiscated passport

● Confiscated, suspension of licenses

● Placing a lien on property – court possesses the person’s property until debt is paid

A person can face one or many or all of the above consequences for failing to make their child support payments. One alone is harmful enough but dealing with multiple can be incredibly detrimental to a person’s quality of life.

It is one thing to purposely not make a payment; it is another thing to run into financial difficulty to make payments on time. It is urged that if a person finds themselves experiencing the latter, that they bring this to the attention of the court, their lawyer, and local authorities. They can assist the individual and alleviate the stress like revising payment plans.

A person is not on his or her own when it comes to dealing with a situation like this. The court wants to see both sides of the family succeed and they will do what they can to make it work.

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Wet and Reckless in California

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If you’ve never heard of a wet reckless charge in California, you’re not alone. Very few people are aware of them. Most of the people who do know about wet reckless driving offenses are lawyers who specialize in DUI cases.

What is a Wet Reckless Driving Charge in California

A patrol officer won’t write a wet reckless ticket. The only way you’ll ever get such a thing is if you’ve been arrested for a DUI in California and your lawyer can talk it down to a wet reckless charge. The fact that it’s not a traditional driving violation is the reason so few people have even heard of wet reckless driving.

A wet reckless charge is a plea agreement the California lawyers use in drunk driving cases. They usually only apply the first time a person is involved in a DUI. The biggest difference between a wet reckless charge and a traditional DUI conviction is that the consequences connected to a wet reckless charge are milder than those attached to a DUI. In many cases, people find that having a wet reckless charge on their file doesn’t create as many problems when employers run a background check.

In the past, some lawyers haven’t been fans of wet reckless charges, but changes made in 2021 have altered their stance.

How a Wet Reckless Compares to a DUI

If you’re able to plea a DUI down to a wet reckless in California, there is no automatic suspension of your driver’s license, though there is an exception. If the DMV learns that your wet reckless charge resulted from a BAC of 0.08% they can still suspend your license, though the suspension might not last as long. It’s also important to understand that the charge will result in two points being added to your driving record.

A wet reckless charge doesn’t involve mandatory jail time. If the judge does sentence you to jail, the maximum amount of time you would serve is 90-days.

You’ll probably still be required to take a few DUI classes, but it’s normally far fewer than you’d have to take if you were charged with a formal DUI.

While there is still a probationary period connected to a wet reckless conviction, it’s significantly shorter. The probation for a wet reckless is generally one to two years, whereas for a DUI it’s three to five years long. This can have a huge impact on your life if you plan on moving out of state or doing much traveling.

Wet and reckless charges aren’t applicable in every single DUI situation. You’ll have to consult with a highly experienced DUI attorney to determine if this is the route you should take following a DUI arrest.

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Distracted Walking in California

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Everyone is familiar with distracted driving tickets, but few of us have ever heard of distracted walking laws. If you’re wondering if that’s even a real thing you’re not alone.

Rest assured, not only is distracted walking a viable concern, but one California city, Montclair, has already passed a distracted walking law. In April 2018, the city’s distracted walking law officially went into effect. Once that happened, anyone caught using their cell phone while walking across the street was subjected to a $100.

It seems like a silly rule, but if you take a few minutes watching people walking on the sidewalk and you can see why distracted walking is a concern. These days, people are completely glued to their phones and often unaware of what is happening around them. Some don’t even look up when they start crossing the street. This type of behavior has prompted more cities to explore the concept of distracted walking laws.

A team of researchers at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark revealed that the number of medical emergencies that included head and neck injuries has substantially increased in the past 20 years.

Legally, drivers are supposed to be aware of pedestrians and do everything in their power to avoid hitting them with their vehicle. The problem that arises is how are drivers supposed to predict when a pedestrian who is texting will suddenly step into the path of oncoming traffic. What makes the issue even more challenging is that many of these pedestrians don’t even realize that they are now in the middle of the road and don’t behave rationally.

Do you think more cities should have distracted walking laws? If distracted laws became common and patrol cops started issuing tickets and fines, would you be more inclined to leave your phone in your pocket, or would you continue to talk and text?

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Getting Into Trouble for Vandalism in California

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California lawmakers have little patience for vandalism. The exact law dealing with the issue is Penal Code 594 PC which defines vandalism and vandals as:

“Every person who maliciously commits any of the following acts with respect to any real or personal property not his or her own, in cases other than those specified by state law, is guilty of vandalism:

  1. Defaces with graffiti or other inscribed material.
  2. Damages.
  3. Destroys.

Whenever a person violates this subdivision with respect to real property, vehicles, signs, fixtures, furnishings, or property belonging to any public entity, as defined by Section 811.2 of the Government Code, or the federal government, it shall be a permissive inference that the person neither owned the property nor had the permission of the owner to deface, damage, or destroy the property.”

Most people assume that vandalism is a deliberate act, such as spraying graffiti on the side of a commercial building, and in some situations, that’s certainly true. However, there have been many instances where vandalism has been added to other charges. In many of these situations, people had no intention of committing an act of vandalism and don’t even realize they have until their defense lawyer explains the list of charges that have been filed against them. An example of this is being charged for vandalism because you broke a window during a fight.

Even doing something as seemingly innocent as leaving a handprint in some wet cement can be considered an act of vandalism.

Don’t assume that a vandalism charge isn’t something you don’t have to take seriously. Yes, it’s a misdemeanor but a guilty conviction could result in you spending some time in jail. If you’re convicted of felony vandalism, the long-term impact the single incident has on your life could be huge.

Vandalism in California is a wobbler offense, meaning that it can be a misdemeanor or a felony. The only thing that determines which way the charge wobbles is the monetary amount to the damage. Don’t assume that you would have to do a lot of damage to be charged with felony vandalism. If your act of vandalism results in $400 or more worth of damage, you’ll be charged with a felony. Considering today’s cost, that’s not much vandalism.

If you’re convicted of misdemeanor vandalism, you could be sentenced to a full year in jail and asked to pay a $1,000 fine. In many cases, the judge will also order restitution. It’s common for community service and probation to be a part of the sentencing.

A guilt conviction for felony vandalism could end in a sentence that includes up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The reason the penalties connected to vandalism are so severe is that state lawmakers want people to stop and think about their actions beforehand. Throwing a few eggs at your neighbor’s house when you’re upset about them blocking your driveway might seem like a good idea until you realize that doing so could result in you being sent to prison.

When it comes to acts of vandalism you should always stop and think if the moment of satisfaction will be worth the potential fallout if you’re caught and convicted.

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Who is Responsible for a T-Bone Accident

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Officially they are called side-collision impact accidents, but because the result is two cars forming a T, most of us know them as T-bone accidents. They occur when two vehicles are traveling in different directions go through an intersection at the same time. At least one of the vehicles is usually traveling at a high rate of speed. Many of these accidents involve injuries and sometimes even fatalities.

In nearly every single instance, the driver of one of the cars believes that the other driver is at fault.

Police are usually quickly able to determine which driver is responsible for the accident simply by looking at the intersection. There’s almost always a stop sign. Whichever driver failed to yield for the stop sign is the driver who is at fault for the accident and the one who will receive the citation.

Just because one driver failed to yield, it doesn’t mean that the other driver is always completely without blame. Issues that can result in the other driver being at fault include:

✨ Failing to have their vehicle’s headlights on
✨ Driving at a high speed
✨ Deliberately accelerating when they realize the other vehicle is about to go through the intersection

It is worth noting that sometimes the police will not instantly inform either driver who was at fault for the accident, which can lead to some issues with insurances companies. It’s not unusual for the police to need additional time to investigate all the factors surrounding the accident. They will measure skid marks, determine the speed of impact, and want to talk to witnesses.

One of the major things they’ll look at is visibility. Did something make it difficult for either driver to see the other driver’s approach?

Wanting to get the accident report just right is only one of the reasons the police will investigate this intersection accident so closely. The other reason is that they want to see if there is anything they can do to prevent future accidents from happening at the same point. If there is something about the intersection that makes it difficult for motorists to see oncoming traffic, things like reducing the speed limit or creating a four-way stop might be considered.

If you’re in a t-bone style accident, it doesn’t hurt to request data about previous accidents that occurred at the same intersection. If there’s a history of accidents in the same area, you may be able to use the older police reports to argue that the intersection is dangerous and that you’re not actually at fault for the accident.