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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Default Unsafe Lane Change in California

    My question involves an Unsafe Lane Change driving ticket from the State of: California

    Hi,

    I got a ticket for "unsafe lane change" a few weeks back. It was during rush hours and I was driving in the carpool lane (I have a Prius with a carpool sticker). I wasn't speeding or anything. But I saw a Highway Patrol car approaching me from behind. So I changed lane into the busier lane, which wasn't exactly bumper-to-bumper and stop-and-go but it was significantly slower than the carpool lane and pretty packed with cars (i.e. short distance from car to car). To my surprise, the Highway Patrol officer pulled me over and said I changed lanes unsafely because the car behind me had to press on the brake to let me in. Well, I thought that was kind of how it works sometimes when you move from a faster carpool lane to a slower and busier lane. I hit my brake all the time when I needed to let the car from the carpool lane in, which was no big deal.

    Anyway, I was planning to do a Trial By Declaration and explain my situation. But when I got the court letter, it said I was "not eligible for a Trial by Declaration". My friend who lives by me had done Trial by Declaration several times and he has never had a case where he was not eligible. Does anyone know why I don't have that option? Is it because of my driving record (I did get a speeding ticket earlier this year) or is it because of the type of the violation?

    Thanks!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    LA LA Land
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    9,194

    Default Re: Unsafe Lane Change in California

    Quote Quoting edwardyim
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    Well, I thought that was kind of how it works sometimes when you move from a faster carpool lane to a slower and busier lane. I hit my brake all the time when I needed to let the car from the carpool lane in, which was no big deal.
    There is a big difference between slowing down to allow another vehicle in front of you... And slowing down abruptly to avoid hitting someone who snuck in, in front of you... This will all depend on the officer's observations and how he will testify in court.

    Quote Quoting edwardyim
    View Post
    Anyway, I was planning to do a Trial By Declaration and explain my situation. But when I got the court letter, it said I was "not eligible for a Trial by Declaration". My friend who lives by me had done Trial by Declaration several times and he has never had a case where he was not eligible. Does anyone know why I don't have that option? Is it because of my driving record (I did get a speeding ticket earlier this year) or is it because of the type of the violation?
    That is VERY odd... Assuming you were cited for VC 22107, then it should be eligible for a TBD, and no, your driving record should not affect your eligibility either.

    Is that the code section you were cited for? If not, please post the section number... Also, were you cited for something else IN ADDITION to the unsafe lane change? If so what is it?

    You might end up having to call the court to ask them why you're ineligible.
    I am right 97% of the time... Who cares about the other 4%!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    4

    Default Re: Unsafe Lane Change in California

    Thanks for the reply!

    The Violation Code is 1 VC-21658A-I. No I wasn't cited for anything else.

  4. #4
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    Mar 2009
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    LA LA Land
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    Default Re: Unsafe Lane Change in California

    Quote Quoting edwardyim
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    Thanks for the reply!

    The Violation Code is 1 VC-21658A-I. No I wasn't cited for anything else.
    21658. Whenever any roadway has been divided into two or more clearly marked lanes for traffic in one direction, the following rules apply:
    (a) A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practical entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from the lane until such movement can be made with reasonable safety.
    (b) Official signs may be erected directing slow-moving traffic to use a designated lane or allocating specified lanes to traffic moving in the same direction, and drivers of vehicles shall obey the directions of the traffic device.
    From where I am sitting, that code section would suggest that in addition to a "questionably safe" lane change, you may have been lane straddling for a while... Whereas 22107 simply states that you must signal a lane change and do so only when it is safe. But again, as I stated above, it will mainly depend on the officer's observations, how detailed his notes are and how he will express those observations in court.

    You might want to make a discovery request for the officer's notes (usually on the back side of his copy of the citation). That might give you an idea as to how he will testify. (Google "California informal discovery" and you'll find plenty of info on how to proceed).

    Lastly, and as far as your eligibility for a TBD, the same analogy applies, in that I see no reason why you would not be eligible. You'll have to contact the court for a more definitive answer.
    I am right 97% of the time... Who cares about the other 4%!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    4

    Default Re: Unsafe Lane Change in California

    Thanks again! Mmm. I was definitely NOT lane straddling. I was in the carpool lane (during peak hours) and the next lane was busy. I was going much faster (but not speeding) than the next lane. So I don't see how I could be lane straddling in that kind of traffic condition. Even if I could have, I know I only made one move to change lane, which was "questionably unsafe". Now I am even more unhappy about the violation type. If anything, the officer should have given me a 22107, not 21658.

    So, if I want to make a discovery request, I need to do that before I request for a TBD, all before the Due Date?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Unsafe Lane Change in California

    Quote Quoting edwardyim
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    So, if I want to make a discovery request, I need to do that before I request for a TBD, all before the Due Date?
    It doesn't matter... Now is as good a time as any.
    I am right 97% of the time... Who cares about the other 4%!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    4

    Default Re: Unsafe Lane Change in California

    I guess what I was asking was, I wanted to know how the officer would testify (discovery request) before I know what I might want to put in my request for trial by declaration, right? But I don't know if I have time to wait for the discovery request and then put in my TBD all by the Due Date.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Northern California
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    519

    Default Re: Unsafe Lane Change in California

    No, 21658(a) is the correct violation for what was described. It governs movement between two or more lanes traveling the same direction.

    22107 is for unsafe turns which 21658 dosen't cover. Say, someone reaches down for their cell phone, tugs the wheel and crashes into the center divide, 22107. Guy says, "Oh man, I need to get off here", pulls the wheel right, crosses from the right lane, through the gore point, then into the offramp lane, causing the person allready on the offramp to brake (or perform any other evasive manuver). Since the gore point is not a lane of travel, 22107 applies.

    One of my bigger pet peeves is when people see my patrol car and lose their mind, either at a stop sign, right turn on red, or whatever. Their action sometimes creates chaos. I've witnessed accidents caused SIMPLY because someone saw me, got nervous, and did something silly. You are not going to get a ticket if you wait unitl there is plenty of space, signal, and move into the lane when it is safe to.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    LA LA Land
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    Default Re: Unsafe Lane Change in California

    I'll defer to Sniper's knowledge on the topic... My selection and description of the two VC sections was based on how they are titled in the bail schedule. Which we all know is not a good substitute for first hand experience.
    I am right 97% of the time... Who cares about the other 4%!

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