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Unlawful Riding

Vehicle Code 21712 VC - Unlawful Riding in a Vehicle

California Vehicle Code 21712 VC is the statute that makes it a crime for a driver to let someone ride in part of a vehicle not intended for passengers, ride in the trunk of a car, or ride in a vehicle that the driver is towing.

California has numerous similar laws to enforce driver and passenger safety on roads and highways. Under VC 21712, it's illegal for drivers to allow passengers to ride on or in parts of the car that aren't designed for passengers. 

Vehicle Code 21712 VC - Unlawful Riding in a Vehicle in California
VC 21712 makes it illegal to let someone ride in part of a vehicle not intended for passengers.

VC 21712 says, “(a) A person driving a motor vehicle shall not knowingly permit a person to ride on a car or upon a portion of a vehicle that is not designed or intended for the use of passengers.

(b) A person shall not ride on a vehicle or upon a portion of a vehicle that is not designed or intended for the use of passengers.

(c) A person driving a motor vehicle shall not knowingly permit a person to ride in the trunk of that motor vehicle.

(d) A person shall not ride in the trunk of a motor vehicle.

(e) A person violating subdivision (c) or (d) shall be punished as follows:

(1) A fine of one hundred dollars ($100).

(2) For a second violation occurring within one year of a prior violation that resulted in a conviction, a fine of two hundred dollars ($200).

(3) For a third or a subsequent violation occurring within one year of two or more prior violations that resulted in convictions, a fine of two hundred fifty dollars ($250).

(f) Subdivisions (a) and (b) do not apply to an employee engaged in the necessary discharge of their duty or the case of persons riding completely within or upon vehicle bodies in the space intended for a load on the vehicle.

(g) A person shall not drive a motor vehicle towing a trailer coach, camp trailer, or trailer carrying a vessel containing a passenger except when a trailer carrying or designed to carry a vessel is engaged in the launching or recovery of the ship.

(h) A person shall not knowingly drive a motor vehicle towing a person riding upon a motorcycle, motorized bicycle, bicycle, coaster, roller skates, sled, skis, or toy vehicle.

(i) Subdivision (g) does not apply to a trailer coach that is towed with a fifth-wheel device if the trailer coach is equipped with safety glazing materials wherever glazing materials are used in windows or doors, with an audible or visual signaling device that a passenger inside the trailer coach can use to gain the attention of the motor vehicle driver, and with at least one unobstructed exit capable of being opened from both the interior and exterior of the trailer coach.”

Unlawful Riding – Quick Facts

There are some essential facts you should know about California Vehicle Code 21712 unlawful riding in a vehicle law, such as the following:

  • Violation requires motorists to pay a fine depending on the type.
  • A driver will get one point on his DMV driving record.
  • You could get a negligent operator license suspension if you receive four points in 12 months, six points in 24 months, or eight points in 36 months.
  • Violations are infractions with fines and points on your DMV record.
  • It's illegal for a person to ride on portions of a vehicle not designed for passengers or to permit them to do so while it is in motion.
  • This law applies to public highways and off-street parking facilities.
  • It's designed to discourage risky behaviors causing injuries.
  • The law also applies to drivers who allow passengers to do so.
  • Both driver and passenger can be ticketed for a violation.

What Are Some Examples of Unlawful Riding?

There are numerous examples of unlawful riding in a vehicle, such as the following: 

  • A person riding in the trunk of a car.
  • Someone is riding on the running boards and fenders.
  • Riding in a vehicle currently being towed by another vehicle.
  • Riding in the cargo bed of a semi-truck.
  • Riding in the bed of a pickup without a safety harness.
  • More than one motorcycle rider on a seat designed for one.

Note that this law applies to passengers who ride illegally and drivers who allow them to do so. In other words, either party (or both) can be ticketed for a violation.

What are Some Exceptions? 

Vehicle Code 21712 VC allows for certain exceptions, such as authorized employees performing their duties, such as trash collectors.

There are also cargo bed exceptions. Passengers can ride in the cargo beds of a truck if it has federally approved restraints and the passengers use them or if it's an agricultural vehicle traveling less than one mile between fields.

Also, passengers can ride a cargo bed in a parade if the truck moves slower than eight mph. Further, A passenger is allowed in a towed trailer if it's designed for a vessel and the passenger is engaged in launching or recovering the vessel. There are also exceptions in other emergencies.

What Are Related Laws?

Several California laws are related to Vehicle Code 21712 VC unlawful riding, including the following: 

Vehicle Code 21700 VC says, “No person shall drive a vehicle when it is so loaded or when there are in the front seat such number of persons as to obstruct the view of the driver to the front or sides of the vehicle or as to interfere with the driver's control over the driving mechanism of the vehicle.

What Are the Penalties?

Violations of VC 21712 are infractions in California that carry the following penalties:

  • The standard fine for a VC 21712 violation is $100 for the first offense.
  • There is a $200 fine for the second within one year of the first.
  • A $250 fine for any subsequent offenses within a year of each other.
  • Fines can be more significant due to added fees and assessments.
  • A violation of VC 21712 adds a point to your driving record.
  • Violations can affect your insurance rates.
  • Multiple points in a short time can lead to driver's license suspension. license.

Failure to Appear

Suppose you receive a ticket in California. In that case, you can pay the fine or challenge it in court.  Signing the citation means you agree to appear in court unless you decide to pay the fine. Suppose you do not show up for your scheduled court date.

In that case, you may face misdemeanor charges for California Vehicle Code 40508 failure to appear, which includes up to a $1000 fine and up to six months in county jail. 

Personal Injury Lawsuit 

If you violate Vehicle Code 21712 and someone is injured (passenger), they could file a personal injury lawsuit against you for negligence, meaning you allegedly failed to use reasonable care to prevent harm.

What are the VC 21712 Defenses?

Suppose you disagree with a citation under VC 21712. In that case, you could challenge it in court. You should retain a California criminal defense attorney to represent you to have the best chance of success.

 Maybe we can argue that you qualified for an exception. Perhaps you were a farm worker or using a safety harness in the back of a pickup. Maybe we can say that there was an emergency. 

May we say that you weren't in a prohibited area of the vehicle? Perhaps we can challenge the police officer's testimony that you were riding unlawfully, but we would need proof, such as video evidence.

Maybe the vehicle was not in motion, as the law only applies to moving cars. You can contact our law firm for a free case review.  Cron, Israels & Stark has offices in Los Angeles, CA.

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