Coasting in neutral is an infraction under California law. This action is deemed unsafe because drivers in neutral will not be able to react as quickly when faced with a hazard while driving. However, the California Vehicle Code does not treat this offense nearly as harshly as many other types of driving offenses.
At the Simmrin Law Group, we understand how the state handles these types of tickets. We have helped countless clients facing a VC 21710 charge. If you have been ticketed, contact us today for a free consultation.
Defining California VC Section 21710
Under California VC 21710, it is illegal to place your vehicle into neutral while driving down a hill. The idea behind this law is that it is unsafe to coast down a hill in neutral as it prevents a motorist from reacting quickly to an emergency.
Drivers are most often cited for this offense after being stopped for another driving violation. While a police officer can ticket you for this offense even if you have not committed any other crime, they are unlikely to pull you over solely for this because it can be difficult to tell for sure that you are coasting in neutral for an outside observer.
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Penalties for a Vehicle Code Section 21710 Violation
As stipulated in the California Vehicle Code, coasting in neutral is an infraction. The three main classifications for crimes are:
Of these, an infraction is the mildest offense. A violation of California VC Section 21710 is punishable by a fine of $238.
Unlike many other driving offenses, a ticket under VC Section 21710 will not result in a point on your Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) driving record. This means that a ticket for this type of violation will not affect your insurance rates or possibly result in a suspension of your license.
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Failure to Appear
If you are ticketed for coasting in neutral, the worst thing you can do is simply ignore the ticket. While coasting in neutral is a mere infraction, ignoring the ticket will result in a violation of California Vehicle Code 40508. This offense is a misdemeanor and can result in:
- Up to six months in jail
- A fine of up to $1,000
- Summary probation
When you are ticketed, you are required to sign a written promise to appear in court. If you do not wish to contest the appearance, you do not have to appear. However, you do have to pay the fine before you are scheduled to appear. Otherwise, you will be in violation of VC 40508.
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Defenses Against a Ticket for Coasting in Neutral
There are many arguments you can make when contesting a coasting in neutral charge under Penal Code 40508. Determining which defense is best for you will depend on the particulars of your situation. Common defenses include:
- Officer error
- Not on a downhill
- On private property
Determining what gear a driver is operating in can be very challenging. It is rare that a police officer can definitively prove that a car was in neutral while traveling downhill. These tickets are often given out based on a police officer’s assumptions based on other factors. Arguing that the ticketing officer was in error can often be an effective defense against this charge.
Not on a Downhill
Under California VC 21710, it is only a crime to coast in neutral if you are on a downhill. If you were ticketed while on a level road or an incline, you should be able to beat the charge against you. Maybe you were driving downhill in gear and then switched to neutral after coming onto a flat stretch of road.
On Private Property
Coasting in neutral is only a crime on public roads. If you were in a private driveway or driving on other private roads, you did not violate Vehicle Code 21710.
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If Coasting in Neutral Leads to an Accident
If a collision occurs while you were coasting in neutral, you could be held liable for any damages. Coasting in neutral is considered negligent behavior. If anyone is injured or suffers damages while you were coasting in neutral, you could end up facing a lawsuit. You could be responsible for paying any damages suffered.
Free Consultation With a Traffic Violations Lawyer in California
If you are looking to contest a ticket for coasting in neutral under California Vehicle Code Section 21710, the Simmrin Law Group can help. Not only can we increase the chances of getting your ticket thrown out, but we can also go to court in your place. If a lawyer appears in court on your behalf, you will not violate Vehicle Code 40508: Failure to Appear.
Give us a call or fill out our online contact form today to get started with a free consultation. We will review your case and advise you of your legal options.