When driving along a three-lane highway in California, drivers must remain in the right-hand lane except in certain situations. Driving in the center or left-hand lane is only permissible under specific conditions.
If you are ticketed for unsafe driving on a three-lane highway under California Vehicle Code 21659, you could be forced to pay a fine as well as receive points on your license. At the Simmrin Law Group, we can help you fight back against a traffic violation ticket.
Defining Unsafe Driving on a Three-Lane Highway
When driving on a three-lane highway, there are only certain times when a driver is permitted to enter the center lane. Furthermore, drivers are never allowed to enter the far left lane on a three-lane highway.
The times a driver is permitted to enter the center lane include when:
- Passing another vehicle
- Making a left turn
- The center lane is being used for traffic proceeding in the same direction as the driver and is marked with clear signage
- The right lane is closed due to construction
When entering the center lane, a driver must first ensure that the lane is clear and that entering the center lane will not pose a danger.
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What Are the Penalties for a VC 21659 Violation?
Unsafe driving on a three-lane highway is an infraction in California. If you get ticketed for a violation of Vehicle Code 21659, you will receive a fine of $238. However, this fine is far from the most severe consequence you will face. In addition to a fine, you will receive a point on your Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) driving record.
A point on your license will be reported to your insurance company. This will likely result in a significant increase in your insurance premiums. Additionally, you will probably be disqualified from any safe driver discounts offered by your insurer.
A point on your license could also lead to a suspension or revocation of your driving privileges. Your license will be suspended if you receive:
- Four points over a period of 12 months
- Six points over a period of 24 months
- Eight points over a period of 36 months
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How Attending Traffic School Can Help
After you receive a ticket under Vehicle Code Section 21659, you will not be required to attend traffic school. However, you might want to consider voluntarily attending, as it can help to minimize the consequences of a VC 21659 ticket.
Attending traffic school will not affect the fine you have to pay. However, successfully completing traffic school could prevent a point from being added to your driving record. This means that you shouldn’t have any issues with your insurance rates or driving privileges due to your ticket.
Don’t Ignore a Ticket
If you face a ticket for unsafe driving on a three-lane highway, the worst thing you can do is simply ignore it. Unfortunately, ignoring a ticket will not make it go away. In fact, it could lead to far harsher consequences than the penalties for the ticket on its own.
When you are ticketed in California, you are obliged to sign a written promise to appear in court. Breaking this promise is a violation of California Vehicle Code Section 40508: Failure to Appear. This offense is treated as a misdemeanor and can be punished by:
- Up to six months in jail
- A fine of up to $1,000
- Summary probation
You could be convicted of a failure to appear offense even if you were not guilty of the underlying violation for which you were initially charged. Note that you are not required to appear in court if you choose not to contest the ticket and pay your fine before your court date.
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What Are the Legal Defenses Against a VC 21659 Ticket?
If you have been ticketed for unsafe driving on a three-lane highway, there are many arguments you can use to fight back against this charge. Determining which defense is best for you will depend on the specifics of your case. Some of the most commonly used defenses include:
- In center lane due to exception
- Reacting to an emergency
- Officer error
In Center Lane Due to Exception
If you were in the center lane due to one of the exceptions listed earlier, such as preparing to turn left, you should be able to argue against your ticket.
Reacting to an Emergency
You can argue that your actions were justified if you entered the center lane or left lane due to an emergency situation. Leaving the right-hand lane to avoid a collision or other road hazard can be a strong argument.
Sometimes, police officers make mistakes. For example, the ticketing officer may have had a bad view of the incident and pulled you over when another driver was the one to leave the right-hand lane.
Whatever defense you use, it is best if you have evidence to back up your claim. Witnesses, photographs, or videos of the incident can go a long way to proving your innocence.
Talk to a California Traffic Violations Lawyer Today
If you have been ticketed for unsafe driving on a three-lane highway under California VC 21659, the Simmrin Law Group can help you fight back.
There are multiple benefits to hiring an attorney. For example, a lawyer can significantly increase your chances of getting a ticket thrown out. Additionally, they can appear on your behalf in court. You will not be charged with failure to appear if your lawyer goes to court in your stead.
If you believe that you were unjustly ticketed, we can help. Give us a call or fill out our online contact form to get started today. We will review your case and advise you of all your legal options.