California Traffic Violations

Common Traffic Violations and Their Consequences in California

If you are based in California and worried about the consequences of traffic violations, you are not alone. It is easy to forget all the rules and regulations on the road, and many drivers are uncertain about how offenses could affect their license, insurance rates, etc.

To stay aware on the roads, you should learn about common driving infractions the laws around these offenses.

This article outlines some of the violations commonly cited in California and assesses the legal impact of these infractions.

Overview of California's Traffic Rules

The California Vehicle Code outlines everything from speed limits and right-of-way to vehicle maintenance and licensing requirements. California’s traffic laws evolve constantly, and the state implements new regulations each year. For instance, beginning in 2021, drivers must carry valid documentation proving insurance coverage, and the law banned the use of handheld electronic devices while driving.

The state also has some unique traffic rules, such as the "California Stop." This law allows drivers to treat stop signs as yield signs under certain circumstances.

It is good practice to stay current on the state’s traffic rules and regulations. You can regularly check local papers, news sites, and government websites for alterations. Doing so can help protect you from accidentally breaking the rules and facing legal consequences.

Speeding Violations

Speeding is one of the most common traffic violations across the country. California takes a tough stance against this crime.

The state bases speeding penalties on:

  • The amount mph over the speed limit
  • Whether the driver has any prior violations
  • Whether the violation occurred in a school zone or construction zone


Going 1 – 15 mph over the speed limit: fines of around $238

Going 30+ mph over the limit: fines as high as $900.

Speeding violations can also add points to your license. These demerits can add up, leading to license suspension or revocation.

Reckless Driving Violations

Reckless driving is technically a traffic violation, but the law treats it more seriously than a minor infraction. Technically, driving recklessly endangers everyone on the road, and the authorities want to stop this behavior.

California’s definition of reckless driving is outlined in the California Vehicle Code [CVC] §23103(a). According to this law, reckless driving occurs when a person drives with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. It involves intentionally disregarding traffic laws and displaying a total lack of concern for others.


Reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense in California. Conviction can include a fine ranging from $220 to $1,000, up to 90 days in county jail, and two points on your driver's license.

Running Red Lights and Stop Signs

In 2019, 831 Californians were killed due to drivers running red lights.


Fines of up to $500 and a point on the driver’s record. The points can impact the driver’s insurance rates and could lead to license suspension if they accumulate.

Texting While Driving

Across the nation, authorities are creating harsher penalties for texting or even talking on a cell phone while driving. California has implemented strict laws on smartphone use while driving.


First offense: $20 fine

Subsequent offenses: $50 for each incident

Additional penalty assessments: Authorities can add extra penalty assessments that significantly increase the violation’s total cost.

Points on your driving record: One point added

Failure to Yield Right-of-Way

Right-of-way refers to the privilege someone has to go first in a traffic situation. For instance, pedestrians have the right-of-way over vehicles at a crosswalk. Proper right-of-way helps traffic flow smoothly and safely.

Failure to yield right-of-way occurs when a driver fails to give the right-of-way to another vehicle or pedestrian as traffic laws require.


Fine Amount: The base fine is generally $238, but the price can vary depending on the severity of the offense.

Points: one point added

Tips for Avoiding Traffic Tickets

  1. Always obey traffic rules and regulations. This tip may seem obvious, but we all forget to follow the rules, especially when we are in a rush.
  2. Be mindful of your speed. Driving too fast is not only dangerous, but it is also not worth risking an expensive ticket.
  3. Maintain your vehicle. Make sure traffic lights, wipers, headlights, and taillights all work properly. More importantly, be mindful of your brakes, steering, tire tread, and so on. Any malfunction could result in a ticket or, worse, an accident.

Preparing for a Traffic Violation Court Date in California

If you recently received a traffic violation in California, you may feel a bit nervous about your upcoming court date. Appearing in court can be intimidating, but you can take these steps to prepare for the experience.

First, make sure you have all the necessary paperwork and documentation regarding your ticket.

Next, familiarize yourself with the traffic laws and regulations in your area. Doing so can give you a strong understanding of the case against you.

Finally, consider seeking legal counsel to guide and support you throughout the process.

Samra Dhillon & Associates can help you fight your traffic violation in court. To speak with our team, contact us online or call our office at (916) 571-1550.