Failure to Present a Valid California Driver’s License

Failure to Present a Valid California Driver’s License

We’ve all done it at some point or another. We’ve left home without our driver’s license. This isn’t a major deal as long as you are walking or riding around as a passenger. If you’re driving, it has the potential to be a major problem. 

In California, you are legally required to have your driver’s license close at hand whenever you’re behind the wheel. It needs to be somewhere that you can easily reach it if a police officer asks for it. 

While you may have driven a hundred times without your license in the vehicle, all it takes is getting pulled over once (or worse, being involved in an accident) to discover what happens if you fail to present a valid California driver’s license when it’s asked for.

Some people think that they have the right to refuse to show an officer their driver’s license. That’s not the case. The California Vehicle Code Section 12951 VC makes it illegal to fail to present your driver’s license to an officer if they request it while you’ve been driving a vehicle. Police officers are legally able to request your license if they’ve pulled you over in a routine traffic stop, or if you were a driver who was involved in an accident.
When you read through Vehicle Code Section 12951 you’ll learn that, “the licensee shall have the valid driver’s license issued to him or her in his or her immediate possession at all times when driving a motor vehicle upon a highway…”
It goes on to state that, “the driver of a motor vehicle shall present his or her license for examination upon demand of a peace officer enforcing the provisions of this code.”

If you express that you’re willing to provide your driver’s license but simply failed to have it on you when you got in your car, the failure to present it will be handled as an infraction. It will cost you money, but at least it won’t lead to you developing a criminal record. In this situation, you should expect to pay a $250 fine.

If you straight up refuse to present your license when the officer asks for it, you’ll be charged with a misdemeanor and could potentially spend up to six months in jail.

It’s worth noting that if your license is expired, if it has been suspended, or if you were never licensed to drive a vehicle in the first place, you’ll likely face additional charges and infractions.

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Can you Sleep in Your Car in California?

Can you Sleep in Your Car in California?

The increasingly rising cost of renting an apartment in California has created an unusual trend. Instead of spending more than half their paycheck on rent each month, some people have taken to living in their cars. This is particularly common in the summer when the weather is warm enough to make life without a heater pleasant.

The increasing number of people who are sleeping in their cars has prompted many cities to start enforcing laws. Some California cities have laws that specifically address the issue of sleeping in your car.

In San Francisco, you’re not allowed to sleep in your car overnight. If you’re caught sleeping in your car, you could be fined up to $1,000. Despite the steep fine, many people continue to live out of their cars in the city. They can skirt the law by parking in a different location each night, making sure they aren’t parked in a place that’s going to attract attention and prompt people to call the police, and they don’t announce that they’re living in their car.

Los Angeles has a law that prohibits people from dwelling in their cars. When you read through the law, you’ll see that it specifically mentions living in your car between the hours of 9 pm and 6 am when your car is parked in a residential neighborhood or when it’s within 500 feet of a school, park, or government building.

If you’re interested in saving money by living in your car, there are a few things you should know. 

First, safety is important. Don’t advertise that you’re living in your car. Always park in areas with a low crime rate. Keep your doors locked. Be prepared to defend yourself if you hear someone trying to break into your vehicle.

Before moving into your car, set up a PO box so that you have a place for your mail. You should also consider joining a gym since that will provide you with shower facilities.

Since there is always a chance you could be caught living in your car and fined, make sure you set aside enough money to cover the fine and still have enough money left to live on.

Have you ever spent time living in your car? If so what are your tips and suggestions for making it a successful living situation?

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Brake Checking in California

Brake Checking in California

“Brake check” is a term that refers to the act of someone slamming hard on their brakes while they’re driving in front of another driver, forcing the other driver to either slam on their own brakes or swerve out of the way. It’s often done because the driver of the lead vehicle feels the second car is following too closely, or tailgating, them. The hope is that slamming on the brakes will convince the other driver to back off. It’s important to understand that this isn’t just a light tap of the brakes. During a brake check, the driver exerts enough pressure on the brake pedal to quickly and significantly slow their vehicle. They usually hit the gas pedal equally hard and speed off.

The interesting thing about brake checks is that both the brake checking and the tailgating are considered to be examples of aggressive or reckless driving. In this particular incident, both drivers can be issued a ticket. Both actions can lead to a serious accident.

There are a couple of different reasons people tailgate. The first is because the driver is impatient and hopes that they can encourage the other driver to go faster. In this scenario, the tailgating is a form of road rage and aggressive driving. The second most common reason for tailgating is because the driver isn’t paying attention or doesn’t realize just how close they’re getting to the other car’s back bumper. In this instance, the tailgating is a perfect example of distracted or careless driving.

If a police officer observes you doing a brake check, they can nail you for reckless driving. Don’t assume that it will merely be a ticket and a fine. Depending on the circumstances, your brake check could result in you gaining a criminal record, possibly losing your driver’s license, and even ending up in a jail cell.

California’s current reckless driving laws are designed in a way that your brake check could result in your getting fined $145-$1,000 as well as being issued a misdemeanor charge. If you’re convicted, you could be sentenced to 5-90 days in jail. Two points will be added to your driving record. And that’s just for your first act of reckless driving.

If your brake check results in someone getting hurt or killed, the penalties are more severe and could include the suspension of your driver’s license. It’s also likely that the injured party will file a civil case against you.

The next time you get tired of being tailgated, take a deep breath and keep your foot off the brake pedal. Remind yourself that it’s far better to be irritated than to do something that could cost you both your freedom and your means of transportation.

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What to Do if Your Neighbor’s Christmas Decorations are Over the Top

What to Do if Your Neighbor’s Christmas Decorations are Over the Top

The holiday season is here. For many of us, that means breaking up the average, boring scenery with decorations that depict your favorite part of the holiday. Most of us love seeing how creative our neighbors are and will even sometimes engage in holiday decoration contests where you try to see who can upstage whom.

For the most part, holiday decorations are fun and everyone enjoys them but there are always exceptions. Sometimes a neighbor will go too far and instead of being a source of joy, the holiday decorations are actually an annoyance. 

It’s important to know how to respond when your neighbor’s holiday decorating goes too far.

The first thing you should do is remind yourself that the holiday season is relatively short. The odds are good that the decorations will only be up for a few weeks. Try to decide if this is something that you really can’t live with for the short term.

If the decorations are really driving you crazy, have a friendly chat with your neighbor to discuss the situation. Explain exactly what the problem is and ask if they think there is a way you can compromise. If it’s a case of the flashing lights or sound effects keeping you up at night, maybe they will agree to turn off the problem decorations at an earlier time in the evening.

If they have decorations you simply find offensive, maybe you can convince your neighbor to move that particular item to a different part of their property where you don’t have to see it.

When meeting with your neighbors about their decorating, you must be prepared to compromise. It took a great deal of time to plan and set up the decorations which they obviously love. They won’t be willing to undo all of that hard work. When you’re willing to compromise, rather than simply making demands, your neighbor will be more willing to consider your side of things.

If the issue isn’t the decorations themselves, but rather the sheer amount of traffic the elaborate display is attracting, you can contact the police and ask them to patrol the area which will encourage traffic to continue moving.

Good luck and enjoy the holiday season!

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Crosswalk Safety in California

Crosswalk Safety in California

Walking to work means you don’t have to worry about getting caught in a traffic jam. It’s a great way to build some stamina while also burning a few calories. It also provides you with the means to start slowing down and develop a connection with the world you live in.

Just don’t think that walking to work is safer than driving yourself. A surprising number of California pedestrians are killed annually. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, there were 972 pedestrian deaths in 2019. Approximately 22% of fatal traffic episodes in California involve a pedestrian. These alarming statistics prompted California lawmakers to pass the “Right-of-Way at Crosswalks” law.

The Right-of-Way law is written up in Code, Section 21950(a). When you read through the formal law, you’ll learn that drivers are legally required to yield to a pedestrian who is strolling through a crosswalk. The law requires that drivers yield to the pedestrian in both marked and unmarked crosswalks. The implementation of the law also requires that drivers use a little additional care when approaching a crosswalk and be on the lookout for pedestrians who may be about to step onto the street. If a pedestrian is stepping onto the street, the driver will have to stop to allow the pedestrian to safely cross the road.

Another issue that’s dealt with in the Right-of-Way law is passing while driving through a crosswalk. Passing while driving through a crosswalk is dangerous for several reasons, including that the passing driver may not see a pedestrian until it’s too late. 

The interesting thing about California’s Right-of-Way law is that it’s designed to protect the rights of both pedestrians and drivers. Drivers do have the right away at crosswalks that are controlled with signals, provided the signal indicates that the driver can go. In this situation, the pedestrians are supposed to yield for drivers. However, drivers do have to wait for slow-moving pedestrians who may be struggling to reach the opposite side in a timely fashion, and the driver must be prepared to take safe and evasive action if a distracted pedestrian fails to notice the sign.

Drivers who are caught failing to adhere to California’s Right-of-Way law will likely receive a traffic citation which will involve a steep fine, points, and the possibility of having the state consider revoking their driving privileges. 

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What Happens if You Drive on the Wrong Side of the Road in California

What Happens if You Drive on the Wrong Side of the Road in California

Everyone knows what side of the road you’re supposed to drive on. We also know that there are a few times, such as when we’re passing a slower moving vehicle, that we’re allowed to temporarily move to the other side but that we’re supposed to return to the correct lane as quickly and safely as possible.

What you might not know is that you can get a ticket for driving on the wrong side of the road for making an illegal U-turn, passing in a no-passing zone, or for simply failing to pay attention and drifting into the other lane. Don’t assume that just because the road is divided by solid yellow lines painted on the asphalt rather than a concrete barrier that you can’t be ticketed for driving on the wrong side of the road, you can be.

The issue of driving on the wrong side of the road is addressed in California Vehicle Code Section 21651.

California lawmakers take driving on the wrong side of California roads very seriously. It’s not just a traffic ticket, it’s a misdemeanor. At best you’ll be charged a fine and have 2 points added to your driving record. At worse, you could be charged up to a $10,000 fine and have to spend a year in jail.

If someone is injured or killed because you were driving on the wrong side things can quickly go from bad to worse. In this situation, you could face felony charges. If convicted, your sentence could include up to three years in prison. In cases of death and injury, additional charges such as vehicular manslaughter and reckless endangerment can be added to the original charge. You’ll also likely find yourself named as the defendant in a civil case.

Considering the very serious consequences connected to driving on the wrong side of the road in California, it’s in your best interest to make sure you always keep your vehicle between the yellow lines and the road’s shoulder.

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