California jaywalking laws

Jaywalking Law: Is Jaywalking Legal in California?

Is Jaywalking Legal in California?

California jaywalking laws

What is Jaywalking?

Jaywalking refers to the act of pedestrians crossing a busy street with oncoming traffic, typically outside of designated crosswalks or against traffic signals. When pedestrians cross a busy road in a manner that disregards traffic laws and regulations, it puts themselves and drivers at risk. While the specific laws and regulations regarding jaywalking may vary from one jurisdiction to another.


California’s New Jaywalking Law

As of January 1, 2023, the “Freedom to Walk Act“, signed by California Governor, Gavin Newsom, came into effect. This new law permits safe street crossing and establishes that a police officer can only cite someone for jaywalking if there is an “immediate danger of collision” with a moving vehicle or a device moving exclusively by human power.

This statute specifies that a reasonably careful person would recognize the danger of a potential collision. Therefore, if there is immediate danger such as oncoming traffic, a reasonably careful person would not cross the street until it is safe to do so. Consequently, if a pedestrian crosses the road unlawfully and causes an accident, they may be held liable.


Is Jaywalking Illegal in California?

do not walk sign

Yes, jaywalking is still technically illegal in California. The state’s vehicle code outlines specific regulations that pedestrians must adhere to when crossing streets and roadways. According to California Vehicle Code Section 21955, pedestrians are required to use marked crosswalks when provided and obey traffic signals and pedestrian control signals.

Crossing a street outside of a marked crosswalk, especially when there is a signal indicating pedestrians should not proceed, is considered jaywalking and can result in legal consequences. California Vehicle Code 21954, states that both motor vehicle drivers and pedestrians must exercise due care for the safety of others on the roadways. A pedestrian can cross the street if it is safe and legal to do so. However, in situations where a reasonably careful person would realize that there is an immediate hazard or risk of a collision, a pedestrian is not permitted to cross. These jaywalking laws are in place to uphold traffic enforcement and protect pedestrians.


Are There Penalties for Jaywalking?

Yes, there are penalties for jaywalking in California. While the penalties may vary depending on the specific circumstances and the discretion of law enforcement, jaywalking violations are typically classified as infractions.

Can I Be Cited for Jaywalking?

It is possible to receive a ticket for jaywalking in California. Law enforcement officers have the authority to issue traffic infractions or citations to pedestrians who violate jaywalking laws. Therefore, if you are caught jaywalking without exercising due care, a police officer may issue you a ticket or a citation. For example, if a person bolts in front of oncoming cars or crosses against a red traffic signal, they may be held accountable.

A traffic citation typically indicates the violation you have committed, the associated fine, and any instructions on how to address the citation, such as paying the fine or contesting the ticket in court. A pedestrian may be ticketed $196 plus court fees if they jaywalk dangerously, such as, if they cross in front of oncoming traffic. If found guilty of jaywalking, individuals may face fines of up to $250. However, it’s important to note that the exact amount of the fine may vary depending on the jurisdiction and any additional fees associated with the violation.

Can I Be Arrested for Jaywalking?

Generally, jaywalking is considered a relatively minor offense, or traffic infraction. Therefore, individuals are not typically arrested for jaywalking in California. However, if you fail to comply with a police officer’s instructions or if you have outstanding warrants or other legal issues, it is possible that an officer may choose to arrest you.


What Happens If a Jaywalking Pedestrian Gets Hit By a Car?

police officers

In 2020, there were 1,026 pedestrian deaths in California. When a jaywalking pedestrian is hit by a car, the consequences can be severe and potentially life-threatening. After a pedestrian accident, it’s crucial to call the police and seek medical attention immediately.

The police will investigate the traffic accident, document the details, and create a police report. The injured victims may be eligible to seek compensation for their serious injuries and damages through a personal injury lawsuit.

It’s vital to consult with an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer as soon as possible to understand your legal options. Pedestrian accident attorneys will help calculate the value of your claim, deal with the insurance companies, and prove liability.


Who Is at Fault if a Driver Hits a Jaywalker?

Determining fault in accidents involving pedestrians can be complex and oftentimes depends on various factors. In general, when a driver hits a jaywalker, both parties may share some level of responsibility.

California follows a pure comparative negligence system, which means that fault may be assigned to both the driver and the pedestrian based on their respective actions and negligence leading up to the accident. The compensation that may be recovered in a claim will be reduced according to each party’s percentage of fault. For example, if a plaintiff is found to be 30% at fault for an accident and their damages are $100,000, they can only recover $70,000 from the defendant.

Factors such as whether the driver was speeding, whether the pedestrian crossed against a red traffic light and other relevant circumstances will be considered when determining fault and liability.


Pedestrian Safety Tips

To ensure pedestrian safety and prevent accidents, pedestrians should follow these essential safety tips:

  • Use designated crosswalks – Whenever possible, cross the street at a marked crosswalk and follow traffic signs.
  • Obey traffic laws – Adhere to traffic rules and regulations, including pedestrian signals and traffic signs.
  • Stay visible – Make yourself visible to drivers by wearing bright or reflective clothing, especially when walking during low-light conditions.
  • Avoid distractions – Stay focused and avoid distractions such as using cell phones or headphones while crossing the street.
  • Make eye contact – Before crossing in front of a vehicle, try to make eye contact with the driver to ensure they see you and acknowledge your presence.
  • Look both ways – Always look in both directions before crossing the street, even when you have the right of way.
  • Walk defensively – Be cautious of drivers who may not yield or may be distracted. Stay alert and be prepared to react if necessary.
  • Teach children about pedestrian safety – Educate children about pedestrian safety rules and supervise them when crossing the street.


Contact an Experienced Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Today

pedestrians crossing the street in los angeles

If you or a loved one has been involved in a pedestrian accident, it is essential to seek legal advice from an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer. At Alpha Accident Lawyers, we are committed to helping injured victims recover compensation for their serious injuries and losses. Our award-winning law firm has years of experience representing pedestrian accident victims.

We will provide the legal advocacy you need to win your case. Call our Los Angeles personal injury law office today to schedule a free consultation.


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