When traveling along a two-lane highway in California, drivers are required to stick to the right-hand lane. If there are more lanes, drivers must stay in the right half of the roadway. However, there are exceptions that can permit a driver to enter a left-hand lane, such as passing another driver.
An infraction for a right-hand lane violation will cost you far more money than the fine denoted on the ticket. At the Simmrin Law Group, we have helped countless people ticketed for a right-hand lane violation under California VC Section 21650. If you have been cited, contact us today for a free consultation.
What Is a Right Hand Lane Violation in California?
There are only certain times when a left-hand lane may be used on a California highway. Typically, drivers must remain in the right-hand lane, with a few exceptions. The times it is acceptable to drive in the left-hand lane include when:
- Passing another vehicle
- Making a left turn
- The right side of the road is closed due to construction or an accident
- Driving on the roadway is restricted to one way traffic
- The road is too narrow
When entering the left-hand lane to pass another vehicle, the passing driver must make sure the lane is clear and that it is safe to pass before proceeding.
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What Are the Penalties for Violating VC 21650?
A right-hand lane violation can result in both a fine and a point on your Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) driving record. The fine for a ticket under California VC 21650 is $238. However, the cost of a point on your license is going to be far more significant. When you receive a point on your driving record, it is reported to your insurance provider.
Points on your driving record can significantly increase your insurance premiums and likely disqualify you from any safe driver discounts offered by your insurer.
Additionally, the accumulation of too many points can result in the suspension or revocation of your driving privileges. Your license will be suspended if you accrue:
- Four points within a 12-month period
- Six points within a 24-month period
- Eight points within a 36-month period
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Should I Attend Traffic School?
You are not required to attend traffic school after receiving a ticket for a right-hand lane violation. However, it may be in your best interest to do so anyway. Successful completion of driving school can keep you from receiving a point on your license.
You will still have to pay any fine you receive, but you won’t have to worry about a hike in insurance costs or a potential suspension of your driving privileges.
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A Failure to Appear Offense
The worst mistake you can make when ticketed for a right-hand lane violation is to ignore the ticket. When a police officer cites you for this offense, you must sign a written promise to appear in court. If you decide not to contest the ticket and instead pay it before your court date, you will not have to appear in court.
However, a failure to pay or show up in court will result in a violation of California Vehicle Code 40508: Failure to Appear. Unlike VC 21650, which is an infraction, this offense is a misdemeanor. That means that you could be sentenced to:
- Up to six months in jail
- A fine of up to $1,000
- Summary probation
You could face a failure to appear charge even if you were not guilty of the original offense.
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What Are Common Defenses Against a VC 21650 Ticket?
There are many arguments you can use to fight back against a Vehicle Code 21650 ticket. What defense is best for your case will depend on the particulars of your situation. Common defenses used against a right-hand lane violation charge include:
- Actions covered by exceptions
- Reacting to an emergency
- Following police instructions
Actions Covered by Exceptions
As mentioned, there are several exceptions where a driver can legally drive in a left-hand lane on a California highway. Therefore, if you were driving in the left-hand lane, you might be able to argue that you were doing so for a reason covered under these exceptions.
Reacting to an Emergency
Driving is dangerous. There are many situations where drivers are forced to take actions that are illegal under normal circumstances in order to avoid an accident. If you moved into the left-hand lane to avoid a collision, you should not have been ticketed for a right-hand lane violation.
Following Police Instructions
Sometimes police officers will guide drivers to take a particular path. If you left the right-hand lane at the instruction of law enforcement, you should not be penalized for that action. You might be able to beat a charge if you moved into the left-hand lane at the direction of a police officer.
Get a Free Consultation From a California Traffic Violations Lawyer
If you face a ticket for a right-hand lane violation under California VC Section 21650, the Simmrin Law Group can help you contest the ticket. Hiring a lawyer will increase your chances of getting a ticket thrown out. Additionally, if you hire an attorney, they can go to court on your behalf. You will not be guilty of failure to appear if a legal professional appears on your behalf.
If you think that you were ticketed in error, contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We can review your case and advise you of all your legal options. Give us a call or fill out our online contact form to get started.