cdwjava, If the court is allowing VC 21651(b) to be filed as an infraction, they are doing so in violation of the law. It is obvious from the plain text used in 21651(b) and 40000.13 that it was the intent of the legislature that this particular violation is to be charged as a misdemeanor. There are no conflicting interpretations so, if the language is clear and unambiguous, the court must, by law, follow the dictates of the statute.
I understand there are vehicle code violations that are considered "wobblers" and can be charged as either an infraction or misdemeanor such as 12500(a) (UNLAWFUL TO DRIVE UNLESS LICENSED) but 21651(b) is not one of them. It can only LEGALLY be charged as a misdemeanor.
Your reference to PC 17(d) has nothing to do with 21651(b). Penal Code 17(d) states in pertinent part:
"A violation of any code section listed in Section 19.8 is an infraction subject to the procedures described in Sections 19.6 and 19.7 …"
Penal Code 19.8 lists the vehicle code violations that 17(d) refers to:
"Sections 5201.1, 12500, 14601.1, 27150.1, 40508, and 42005 of the Vehicle Code…"
Neither 17(d) nor any other code section allows for 21651(b) to be filed as an infraction.