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Bald Tire

Vehicle Code 27465(b) VC - Bald Tire Violations in California

California Vehicle Code 27465(b) VC is the law that makes it a traffic offense for someone to drive a motor vehicle with tires that have overly worn tire treads. This statute imposes a minimum tread depth of at least 1/8th inch for front tires and 1/16th inch for rear tires. Any vehicle tire with unlawful worn treads is commonly called a “bald tire.”

Tire tread depth is essential for maintaining adequate traction on road surfaces. Suppose you have car tires with insufficient tread depth. In that case, it can create dangerous driving conditions on wet or slippery surfaces. Simply put, bald car tires can increase the risks of accidents and injury. 

Vehicle Code 27465(b) VC - Bald Tire Violations in California
If you drive a motor vehicle with overly worn tire treads, you could receive a traffic citation.

This means that driving a vehicle with bald tires is not only a safety hazard; it's also illegal. VC 27465(b) prohibits you from driving a car with worn tire treads below state-approved safety standards. It's considered a traffic offense, and you would typically receive a citation after being pulled over by law enforcement.

Vehicle Code 27465(b) VC says, “No person shall use on a highway a pneumatic tire on a vehicle axle when the tire has less than the following tread depth, except when temporarily installed on a disabled vehicle as specified in subdivision (a):

(1) One thirty-second (1/32) of an inch tread depth in any two adjacent grooves at any location of the tire, except as provided in paragraphs (2) and (3).

(2) Four thirty-second (4/32) of an inch tread depth at all points in all major grooves on a tire on the steering axle of any motor vehicle specified in Section 34500, and two thirty-second (2/32) of an inch tread depth at all points in all major grooves on all other tires on the axles of these vehicles.

(3) Six thirty seconds (6/32) of an inch tread depth at all points in all major grooves on snow tires are used in lieu of tire traction devices in posted tire traction device control areas.

(c) The measurement of tread depth shall not be made where tie bars, humps, or fillets are located.

(d) The requirements of this section shall not apply to implements of husbandry.

(e) The department, if it determines that such action is appropriate and in keeping with reasonable safety requirements, may adopt regulations establishing more stringent tread depth requirements than those specified in this section for those vehicles defined in Sections 322 and 545 and may adopt regulations establishing tread depth requirements different from those specified in this section for those vehicles listed in Section 34500.

Vehicle Code 27465(a) VC prohibits sellers from selling a vehicle with a bald tire.

Bald Tire Violations – Quick Facts

There are some facts you should know about California Vehicle Code 27465 VC bald tire violations, such as the following:

  • The law imposes a minimum tread depth of at least 1/8th of an inch in depth for front tires and 1/16th of an inch in depth for rear tires.
  • Vehicles with unlawfully worn treads are known as “bald tires.”
  • A bald tire has worn down so much that its treads are non-existent or no longer effectively grip the road, posing a safety risk.
  • This law primarily targets drivers of vehicles with bald tires, not auto repair shops, if they remove and replace a bald tire during other repairs.
  • A tire's " tread " is the tire's portion, with ribs and grooves, that contacts the roadway.
  • Other California laws regulate specific vehicle parts, including mufflers and seat belts.
  • Violations are infractions and are punished with a traffic ticket.
  • The 1/32 of an inch tread depth generally acts as the standard.
  • Drivers are exempt from penalties if the spare tire is below the tread limits placed on the car in an emergency.
  • Vehicles used in agricultural operations are exempt as they are considered an “implement of husbandry.” 

What About Trucks and Buses?

Further, VC 27465(b) imposes specific minimum tread depths required for different vehicles and axles. A car tire is considered legally "bald" if it falls below the following tread depths:

  • For trucks, buses, and commercial vehicles above regulatory weights - 1/8 inch for tires on the steering axle and 1/15 inch for tires on all other axles.
  • For other standard motor vehicles - 1/32 inch at all points on all tires.
  • For snow tires - 3/16 inch at all points on all tires.

What are the Penalties for VC 27465(b)?  

Violations for VC 27465(b) are non-criminal infractions with a standard base fine of $25 for each bald tire. Additional court assessment fees can make the total fines much higher depending on the California county where the infraction occurred. There are no DMV points assessed for these infractions.

When you receive a ticket in California, you can pay the fine or appear in court to challenge it. Once you sign a citation, you promise to appear in court if you contest it.

Suppose you do not pay the fine or appear at your court date. In that case, you could be charged with Vehicle Code 40508 VC failure to appear, a separate misdemeanor crime that carries up to six months in county jail, and a fine of up to $1,000.

What If Someone Was Injured?

If you violate VC 27465(b) bald car tire law and there was an accident due to a worn tire blowout causing someone's injury, they could file a personal injury lawsuit against you. 

The PI claim would be that your worn tire treads were negligent and that you should pay them financial compensation for their losses and injuries. However, they would be required to prove that you caused the accident resulting in their injuries and that you were driving a vehicle with bald tires that violated the law.

What are the Defenses for Bald Tire Violations? 

Suppose you disagree with the ticket you received for violating VC 27465(b). In that case, you can appear in court to dispute it. Some common defenses against bald tire violations are discussed below.  

Maybe we can question the accuracy of the tire tread measurement, which must be taken correctly with the proper tools. If we can show the measurement was inaccurate, we might be able to get the ticket dismissed.

Perhaps you qualify for an exception, such as it was only a temporary spare used in an emergency. Maybe we can argue the traffic stop was unlawful. Perhaps the police lacked probable cause, and any evidence they obtained during the stop, including the bald tire violation, might be deemed inadmissible.

Perhaps we can say there was a lack of knowledge. Maybe we can claim that you were unaware of the tire condition and had no reasonable means of knowing the tire was below the legal tread depth. You can contact our law firm for a free case review and to discuss legal options. Cron, Israels & Stark has offices in Los Angeles, CA.

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