If you get ticketed for driving in a bike lane, you will likely find yourself facing a fine and a point on your driving record. The actions you take after getting a ticket for driving in a bike lane are critical. Failure to take the proper steps could result in a suspension of your driver’s license and even possible jail time.
If you have received a ticket for driving in a bike lane under California VC Section 21209, an experienced traffic ticket lawyer can help you fight back. Contact the Simmrin Law Group to get started with a free consultation.
What Counts as Driving on a Bike Lane?
Driving on a bike lane is against the law in California in most situations. However, there are times when a car can enter a bike lane legally. Under California VC 21209, a driver may enter a bike lane:
- To park, when parking is permitted
- When entering or leaving the roadway
- When preparing for a turn and within 200 feet of the intersection
When entering a bike lane for any of these reasons, a driver must yield to any bicycles using the bike lane at the time. Motorized bicycles are not prevented from using a bike lane under VC 21209. However, they must maintain a speed that is reasonable and does not endanger other bicyclists in the lane.
Penalties for Driving in a Bike Lane
A violation of California VC Section 21209 will usually result in both a fine and a point on your driver’s license. However, there are ways to avoid the latter consequence. The fine for a VC21209 violation is approximately $238.
Points on your Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) driving record can impact you in multiple ways. An immediate consequence of getting a point on your record is that your insurance premiums will be affected. Your insurer is informed anytime you receive a point on your record. The resulting increase in your insurance rates often lasts for several years.
Additionally, points on your license could lead the DMV to suspend or revoke your license. You will receive a six-month suspension if you accumulate:
- Four points in a 12-month period
- Six points in a 24-month period
- Eight points in a 36-month period
A California DMV hearing will be held in these situations.
Should I Attend Traffic School?
You will often have a chance of avoiding a point being added to your license by attending traffic school. While you will still have to pay any fine you receive, completing driving school can help protect you against the harsher consequences that can accompany points on your license.
There is no requirement to attend driving school after a VC 21209 violation. However, doing so is typically going to be in your best interest.
Failure to Appear
The worst thing to do if you receive a ticket for driving in a bike lane under VC 21209 is to ignore the ticket. This can lead to much more severe consequences, including jail time. When a driver receives a traffic ticket in California, they must sign a written promise to appear in court. Failure to appear is a violation of Vehicle Code 40508 and is a misdemeanor offense in California.
If you willfully fail to appear in court, you could face penalties of:
- Up to six months in jail
- A fine of up to $1,000
- Summary probation
Defenses Against a VC 21209 Charge
There are many defenses that you could potentially use to fight a VC 21209 charge, depending on the particulars of your situation. Some common defenses include:
- The driver was in the bike lane legally
- There was an emergency
- The officer was mistaken
The Driver Was in the Bike Lane Legally
If the driver entered the bike lane to park, turn, or enter the roadway, as mentioned previously, they did not violate Vehicle Code 21209. If you were ticketed when performing one of these actions, you could contest the ticket in court.
There Was an Emergency
A driver may drive in a bike lane in certain situations, including entering the bike lane to avoid a collision with another vehicle.
The Officer Was Mistaken
Police officers are only human. Sometimes they make mistakes. If the ticketing officer was mistaken to think that you entered the bike lane, you should not have to suffer the consequences.
The odds of any of these defenses being successful increase significantly if you can produce witnesses, photographs, or surveillance video to back up your version of events.
Get Help From a Traffic Ticket Lawyer in California
Hiring a traffic violations attorney will greatly increase your chances of beating a California VC 21209 ticket. In addition to improving your odds, there are other benefits to hiring a traffic ticket lawyer. Your lawyer can appear in court on your behalf. You will not be charged with failure to appear if your attorney goes in your place.
At the Simmrin Law Group, we have helped countless clients fight back against VC 21209 tickets. Give us a call or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a member of our legal team. We will review your case and inform you of all your legal options going forward.