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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2019
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    Default Driving on Wrong Side of Road, VC 21651(B)

    My question involves a traffic ticket from the state of: California

    Hi all, this is my story. I was driving in downtown San Jose using GPS to find an address. I was travelling down what looked like a major road when the GPS told me to take a left. I turned left only to realize in a coupe of seconds that I was driving on the wrong side. I stopped the vehicle and started backing away as the road has a divider. Just my luck there a cop right in front of me and he actually helped me out by directing me to the other side of the road. If I had kept my cool and thought fast, I could have avoided the subsequent ticket 21651(b). I tried in vain to explain to the officer that I was not familiar with down town. He politely listened and told me that he understood my situation but would still give me the ticket. He circled Infraction, probably so that I can appear in Traffic Court though in my research I fond that it is a misdemeanor.

    I am at my wit's end what to do. This is the first time I would be appearing in court in my 7 years driving history. My wife is hopping mad that I might go to jail, fined hundreds of dollars and the increased insurance costs. I am also relocating from California to Texas in July as my wife's job got transferred there. How do I appear in court if they give me court appearance dates after July? Also I am a legal permanent resident. How does any of this mess affect my chances at naturalization?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    20,306

    Default Re: 21651(B) Rive on Wrong Side of Road

    Relax. Since it was charged as an infraction (and there is no reason to believe that it will be re-filed as a misdemeanor) no jail time is possible. You face a fine only. Once the cite is filed with the court, you can probably go in, plead guilty, and pay the fine to deal with it before you move if that's preferable to coming back.

    And, no, this should have zero effect on your immigration status.
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2019
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    4

    Default Re: 21651(B) Rive on Wrong Side of Road

    Thanks for your reply cdwjava. The officer wrote down an August date before which I need to appear in Traffic court. Will I receive any notice or should I just drop by the court and they will give me notice? A lot of online info is actually from law firms and understandably they all recommend hiring an attorney. I bet that would cost thousands of dollars. However, a 2 demit point will also increase my insurance rate? So I guess I need to weight spending money on attorney or insurance costs...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Paso Robles, California
    Posts
    486

    Default Re: 21651(B) Rive on Wrong Side of Road

    Quote Quoting cdwjava
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    Relax. Since it was charged as an infraction (and there is no reason to believe that it will be re-filed as a misdemeanor) no jail time is possible. You face a fine only. Once the cite is filed with the court, you can probably go in, plead guilty, and pay the fine to deal with it before you move if that's preferable to coming back.

    And, no, this should have zero effect on your immigration status.
    Unfortunately, in this case I don't believe the officer has the authority to file this as an infraction. The code section reads:

    21651(b) "It is unlawful to drive any vehicle upon a highway, except to the right of an intermittent barrier or a dividing section which separates two or more opposing lanes of traffic. Except as otherwise provided in subdivision (c), a violation of this subdivision is a misdemeanor."

    The code itself specifically states "a violation of this subdivision is a misdemeanor" and therefore precludes the option of it being filed as an infraction. The officer has no authority to circumvent the code by filing it as an infraction and the court on its own motion cannot amend the citation. So, the only option is that the citing officer file form TR-100, Notice of Correction and Proof of Service to change the violation to 21651(a).
    *****
    I may not always be right, but I am never wrong.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2019
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    4

    Default Re: 21651(B) Rive on Wrong Side of Road

    What would the fine amount be and is there any way to pay the fine without impacting insurance costs.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    16,859

    Default Re: 21651(B) Rive on Wrong Side of Road

    Quote Quoting Inf
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    is there any way to pay the fine without impacting insurance costs.
    Nope.

    Paying the fine means guilty.

    If your insurance company surcharges for one ticket, you'll pay the surcharge typically for 3 years.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
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    Paso Robles, California
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    486

    Default Re: 21651(B) Rive on Wrong Side of Road

    Quote Quoting Inf
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    What would the fine amount be and is there any way to pay the fine without impacting insurance costs.
    The fine for this violation is around $407 but more important is that it is a misdemeanor and a 2-point violation, which makes you ineligible for traffic school. So there is no way to keep your insurance company from finding out about this citation if you're found, or plead, guilty.

    Being that this particular violation is a misdemeanor, there is the possibility of incarceration. With that being said, as far as jail time, don't worry, you won't spend any jail time for this offense.

    My suggestion would be to contact the citing officer and see if he/she would be willing to submit a TR-100 (Notice of correction) to change the charge to 21651(a) which is only a 1-point violation and will make you eligible for traffic school. If that doesn't happen, you have several other rights available to you which arenít available to you if it were an infraction.
    *****
    I may not always be right, but I am never wrong.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    California
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    Default Re: 21651(B) Rive on Wrong Side of Road

    Quote Quoting Inf
    View Post
    Thanks for your reply cdwjava. The officer wrote down an August date before which I need to appear in Traffic court. Will I receive any notice or should I just drop by the court and they will give me notice? A lot of online info is actually from law firms and understandably they all recommend hiring an attorney. I bet that would cost thousands of dollars. However, a 2 demit point will also increase my insurance rate? So I guess I need to weight spending money on attorney or insurance costs...
    You MAY receive a courtesy notice in the mail, but, you may not. You can generally handle it before court by pleading guilty and paying the fines. It may take 2 weeks or more to get into their system, but there may be a way to check for the cite online through the court's website.

    Understand that hiring an attorney may be an ADDITIONAL cost. An attorney cannot magically make this go away. You still committed the offense, attorney or not. Absent a huge foible by the officer or his failing to show at court, you'll likely lose anyway. But, it's your call as to whether you want to hire an attorney anyway.

    Quote Quoting Jim Kozlovich
    View Post
    Unfortunately, in this case I don't believe the officer has the authority to file this as an infraction. The code section reads:

    21651(b) "It is unlawful to drive any vehicle upon a highway, except to the right of an intermittent barrier or a dividing section which separates two or more opposing lanes of traffic. Except as otherwise provided in subdivision (c), a violation of this subdivision is a misdemeanor."

    The code itself specifically states "a violation of this subdivision is a misdemeanor" and therefore precludes the option of it being filed as an infraction. The officer has no authority to circumvent the code by filing it as an infraction and the court on its own motion cannot amend the citation. So, the only option is that the citing officer file form TR-100, Notice of Correction and Proof of Service to change the violation to 21651(a).
    While you are technically correct, even without the correction, these are almost always filed as infractions. Why? Because the DA doesn't want to spend the money to pursue such an offense through the criminal courts and a possible jury trial. The chance of this being filed as a misdemeanor is slim to nil.
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: 21651(B) Rive on Wrong Side of Road

    Thank you for your answers cdwjava and Jim Kozlovich.

    $400 plus insurance costs What a price to pay for a mistake made over a few seconds.

    Is there anything like a good behavior program, like if I don't get any more tickets then the points are put back. Sounds silly but I am not familiar with these things. I also read somewhere about giving DNA sample and paying a smaller fine.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Paso Robles, California
    Posts
    486

    Default Re: 21651(B) Rive on Wrong Side of Road

    Quote Quoting cdwjava
    View Post
    While you are technically correct, even without the correction, these are almost always filed as infractions. Why? Because the DA doesn't want to spend the money to pursue such an offense through the criminal courts and a possible jury trial. The chance of this being filed as a misdemeanor is slim to nil.
    I am not only "technically" correct but also legally correct. Legally 21651(b) CANNOT be filed as an infraction. Vehicle Code 21651(b) specifically states, "a violation of this subdivision is a misdemeanor".

    Vehicle Code sec. 40000.13 further states,
    "A violation of any of the following provisions is a misdemeanor, and not an infraction:…
    (d) Subdivision (b) of Section 21651, relating to wrong-way driving on divided highways."

    The court can't simply disregard the law because it is inconvenient for the DA to prosecute. If the DA decides that it's not worth the time and money to prosecute this case, it is the DA who determines what to do with the charges, NOT the court or the citing officer.

    In addition, there is no provision in the bail schedule for this code section when filed as an infraction as to the bail amount or the point count. What then is the court supposed to do…just make up a fine amount and point count? Talk about a violation of due process.
    *****
    I may not always be right, but I am never wrong.

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