The short answer is that it is against California law to drive with a gun in your car if you do not have a license to carry the gun. This is according to California penal code section 12025. The law also requires you to be 18 years old or over to drive with a gun in your car.
The long answer is more complicated because the gun must also be properly unloaded and locked away while driving. Read on to find out more.
You Cannot Drive in Los Angeles with a Loaded and Visible Gun
According to California law, the gun must be unloaded. The legal definition of unloaded depends on the circumstances. In most circumstances, a gun is considered unloaded when it does not have a live round of ammunition in it. This means the gun does not have a clip or firing chamber magazine attached to it. If your gun is loaded does then you cannot drive with it in Los Angeles.
In addition, California law prevents you from driving in your motor vehicle with a loaded gun that is not locked away. You must lock the unloaded gun in your vehicle’s trunk. If you cannot lock the unloaded gun in your trunk, it must be in a locked container located inside your motor vehicle.
What Is Considered a Locked Container?
The term “locked container” is a secured container that can fully close and is locked by one of the following:
- Combination lock
- Key lock
- Similar locking device
A locked container does not include your glove compartment or utility compartment. California law does not define utility compartments. However, you are prohibited from storing an unloaded gun in your lock or unlocked center console or any storage area located behind a rear seat in a hatchback vehicle.
If you are driving with a shotgun, it is against the law if the gun is loaded and not locked away. If you do not have a trunk, place the rifle or shotgun in a locking hard case.
What About Motorhomes?
A motor home is treated as a grey area when driving with a gun in California. California law focuses on driving in a passenger vehicle, but you must follow the same law when driving your motorhome: keep your gun unloaded and locked away. However, your motorhome is treated as your residence when parked at a campsite. In this case, you would not be required to keep your gun unloaded and locked away.
Misdemeanor for Driving with a Loaded and Concealed Weapon
It is against the law to drive in Los Angeles with a loaded or concealed gun according to California penal code 12025. If convicted, you face 12 months in county jail and a $1,000 fine.
To convict you of driving with a gun that was loaded and not locked away, a prosecutor must show:
- You had a gun in your motor vehicle that could be concealed on you or carried by you.
- The gun was concealed in your vehicle.
- Your motor vehicle was under your physical direction or control at the time the police found the gun. If you were not driving, you were in the motor vehicle at the time the gun was found.
Are There Ever Felony Charges?
You may be charged with a felony driving in Los Angeles with a loaded gun that is visible. A felony is a harsher charge that requires prison time. You can be charged with a felony if:
- You are not allowed to own and/or be in possession of a gun, you may be charged with a felony. You have a gun in your possession not listed in the California Automated Firearms System database (AFS).
- You have a loaded gun that is not listed in your name in the AFS database.
- You had ammunition readily accessible or in your immediate possession in you motor vehicle.
Have you been accused or charged with driving with a loaded gun that was not locked away? You need the help of an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at Simmrin Law Group. Call us at (310) 997-4688 or fill out our contact form to schedule a FREE consultation. We will explain the law and possible defenses we can use to resolve this criminal charge. Contact us today!