Vehicle Code 21709 VC - Driving Through a Safety Zone
California Vehicle Code 21709 VC is the statute making it illegal for motorists to drive through safety zones, clearly marked areas set aside for pedestrians, such as striped areas where passengers load and unload buses.
Suppose you are cited for violating VC 21709. In that case, you are facing a fine of $238.00 and one point on your DMV driving record. Further, you could get a negligent operator license suspension if you receive a certain number of points in a given period, such as four points in 12 months, six points in 24 months, or eight points in 36 months.
If you disagree with the citation, you could challenge the ticket, but it would be wise to retain a lawyer to have the best chance of a favorable outcome. However, you should never ignore the ticket for driving through a safety zone as you could get charged with the misdemeanor crime Vehicle Code 40508 VC failure to appear.
VC 21709 says, “No vehicle shall at any time be driven through or within a safety zone.”
This traffic law is designed to protect the safety of pedestrians around motorists. Simply put, it prohibits drivers from driving through a designated safety zone, areas marked off by traffic control devices, striped areas of the road, or other indicators.
They protect pedestrians from potential harm caused by passing vehicles. Some examples of safety zones are the following:
- School zones,
- Loading zones,
- Bus stops,
It's a clearly marked area set aside for the use of pedestrians. As noted, violations could result in a fine and one point on your DMV driving record.
What Constitutes a Safety Zone?
California Vehicle Code 540 VC defines a safety zone as follows: “A safety zone is an area or space lawfully set apart within a roadway for the exclusive use of pedestrians and which is protected, or which is marked or indicated by vertical signs, raised markers or raised buttons, to make such area or space visible at all times while the same is set apart as a safety zone.”
Notably, the state of California has some essential responsibilities when designating safety zones, such as the following:
- They must set aside part of a roadway for pedestrians by delineating part where a driver might otherwise feel free to drive.
- Sidewalks are not considered a safety zone because vehicles can drive across them to get to the adjacent property as defined by Vehicle Code 21663 VC.
- Safety zones must always be clearly marked and visible to drivers. This ensures pedestrians' safety and prevents drivers from crossing into the safety zone.
Suppose these above-listed conditions are not present. You could have a valid reason to challenge your traffic citation in that case. Notably, pedestrians must be watchful when crossing a street, which does not apply when standing in a safety zone.
What are the Penalties?
Violations of VC 21709 driving through a safety zone is an infraction and could face the following penalties:
- A fine of $238,
- One point added to your DMV record.
Suppose you earn too many points within a particular time, such as four points in 12 months, six points in 24 months, or eight points in 36 months. In that case, the DMV could classify you as a “negligent operator” and suspend your license, and you could face increased insurance premiums.
If you injure someone while violating the driving through a safety zone law, you might face a personal injury lawsuit against you for negligence.
What Are the Defenses?
Suppose you disagree with your citation under VC 21709. In that case, you can challenge the citation in court, as discussed below.
Maybe we can argue that the safety zone was not properly marked. Perhaps it was not marked or indicated in the driver's view. Possibly, the signage was obstructed, and we can say you were unaware of the restricted area.
Maybe we can argue that there was an emergency or necessity. Perhaps you had to drive through the safety zone to avoid an accident or other imminent danger.
Maybe we can argue that the police officer made a mistake. Perhaps the officer mistakenly accused you of having your vehicle in the safety zone when you avoided it.
You should seek advice from an attorney when challenging a traffic ticket. You will have a greater chance of success if you provide eyewitness testimony or video evidence. You can contact us for a free case review via phone or the contact form. Cron, Israels & Stark is in Los Angeles, California.