It’s very important that drivers in California stay on the proper side of the road. Drivers that disregard this guideline can end up causing head-on collisions, which can result in serious injuries and extensive property damage.
Drivers that cross into opposing traffic can also face criminal charges under California Vehicle Code Section 21651: Driving Across a Divided Highway. Get more information about this criminal charge and the results of a conviction with the professionals at the Simmrin Law Group.
Defining Divided Highways in California
It’s important to understand the exact definition of a divided highway in California before digging deeper into VC 21651. According to the legal codes in California, a road is considered a divided highway if it is split into at least two roadways by:
- Intermittent Barriers
- A Dividing Section At Least Two Feet Wide
This dividing section can be unpaved. It can also be marked with:
- Double-Parallel Lines
- Other Markings
Note that any public road can be considered a divided highway if it meets the above qualifications. Even roads that are not included in California’s freeway system may qualify as divided highways.
The Definition of Driving Across a Divided Highway
- Driving Across, Upon, or Over the Dividing Section OR
- Making a U-Turn, Semicircular Turn, or Left Turn Except in Marked Areas
Note that driving across a divided highway is often prosecuted as a misdemeanor. However, VC 21651 can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony if someone is injured or killed after a driver operates a vehicle across a divided highway.
Charges Similar to Driving Across a Divided Highway in California
Drivers in California can face a number of charges that resemble VC 21651. Depending upon the specific situation, drivers can be charged under:
- Vehicle Code Section 22100.5: Making an Illegal U-Turn
- Vehicle Code Section 23103: Reckless Driving
- Vehicle Code Section 2800.4: Evading a Peace Officer by Driving in the Opposite Direction of Traffic
Reckless driving can cover a wide range of dangerous acts on the road, including driving the wrong way, driving on sidewalks, and racing.
Legal Repercussions for Driving Across a Divided Highway
Drivers in the state of California can face fines and a period of time in jail if they are convicted of driving across a divided highway. Additionally, drivers can have one point added to their driver’s license for a VC 21651 conviction.
Note that an individual’s driver’s license can be suspended if they accrue too many points in a set period of time. This means that, depending upon the number of points already on an individual’s license, they could lose their driving privileges based on a VC 21651 conviction in California.
You should also be aware that some drivers may be able to avoid getting points on their license by attending traffic school after they are arrested for a VC 21651 violation. Drivers will still need to pay their fine if they attend this school, but it can reduce the repercussions of a charge for driving across a divided highway.
Common Legal Defenses for VC 21651 Accusations
A charge for driving across a divided highway does not have to automatically lead to a conviction in California. You can get help building a strong defense to VC 21651 charges by reaching out to a professional criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles. Your legal team could be able to defend you by arguing:
You Needed to Cross a Divided Highway in an Emergency Situation
Sometimes, you have no choice but to cross a divided highway. For example, if crossing the divided highway was the only way for you to avoid a massive wreck ahead of you, you could be spared a VC 21651 conviction. Let your lawyer focus on the reasons you drove across a divided highway to build your defense.
You Did Not Intentionally Cross a Divided Highway
In some situations, your intentions when crossing a divided highway can be taken into account. You may be charged with a misdemeanor instead of a felony, if you crossed a divided highway by accident and caused an injury or a death. However, you can still face criminal charges for this action. They will just be lessened.
Let a Criminal Defense Lawyer Take on VC 21651 Charges
California Vehicle Code Section 21651: Driving Across a Divided Highway charges can be a challenge to handle without professional help. Start focusing on your case now by contacting the Simmrin Law Group’s criminal defense lawyers in Los Angeles for a FREE consultation.
Get the legal advice you need quickly by calling (310) 896-2723 or filling out our online contact form.