There are numerous vehicle violations that you can be found to have circumvented. Some of these are criminal violations with the possibility of jail time, while others are infractions and carry only a fine.
Some of the more common vehicle violations are as follows:
This can be charged as either a misdemeanor or an infraction, depending on your driving history. The prosecution must prove that you knew or should have known that your license was suspended or revoked. If your license was suspended but you were eligible to apply for a valid one, you may get the charge reduced to an infraction or dismissed.
As a misdemeanor, you face up to 6 months in county jail and a fine up to $1,000, as well as impoundment of your vehicle. An infraction is a maximum $250 fine.
This involves property damage where you left the scene without exchanging identifying information. You can be charged regardless if the accident was your fault. If no one was at the scene, you are required to leave a note with this information and to contact the police.
The state must prove that you knew or it was reasonably probable that property was damaged, that there was property damage, that you did not provide the required information, and that it was you driving the car. Each of these obligations must be proved to convict you of misdemeanor hit and run.
The penalty is up to 6 months in jail and a maximum fine of $1000. You also get 2 points on your driving record.
It is possible to have the charge dismissed in some cases under California law if you reimburse the property damage victim in full.
You can be charged with a felony if you fled the scene of an accident without exchanging identifying information and someone other than yourself was injured or died in the accident.
You are also required to provide reasonable assistance to an injured person who is in need or requests it by your calling for assistance or rendering it if necessary and reasonable.
This apples whether the accident was your fault or not.
A prosecutor need only prove that that you failed to do any one of these elements:• You must have known that an injury accident occurred or should have reasonably been aware of it. • That you willfully neglected to stop • That you willfully failed to assist someone in need • That you willfully failed to provide the required information
It also must be proved that it was you driving the car. Regarding your leaving the scene, if you can show it was not safe to remain there because you were being threatened for instance or you reasonably felt unsafe, this could a viable defense.
As a felony, you face from 16 months, or 2 or 3 years in state prison, and a fine up to $10,000. You must pay restitution to the victim or victims. You will also receive 2 points on your driving record.
As a misdemeanor, you must have willfully fled from an officer pursuing in a visibly marked police vehicle or who was on a bicycle and in a distinctive uniform. The police vehicle must have had its red lights flashing and not just any lights.
Further, you must have known you were being pursued or reasonably should have known. If no lights were on, you can still be found guilty if the officer was motioning for you to pull over for a reasonable time.
It can be charged as a felony if while fleeing you caused serious bodily injury or death to someone or drove at a high speed or so recklessly as to show a wanton disregard for the safety of others.
A felony conviction carries a 16-month, 2 or 3 years in state prison, and a $10,000 fine.
It is illegal to knowingly drive while in possession of marijuana. You can be found not guilty if you are an authorized medical marijuana user or caregiver, or if you can show that you did not legally possess the marijuana. It is a separate and more serious offense if you are found with more than one ounce of the drug in your car. For up to one ounce, you can be charged under California Vehicle Code Section 232229(b), which is an infraction and carries a fine of up to $100.
As a defense, you can allege that the pot is not yours or that you were unaware of it and did not possess it, especially if it is found in the trunk or hidden in the back seat. The search of your car must also be legal and the drug not found in plain sight.
For drug quantities exceeding one ounce, you can be charged with transporting, a much more serious offense.
Letting someone else use your handicap placard, using someone else’s placard while not actively transporting that person, or using a cancelled placard, all while parking in a spot reserved for disabled persons, is a misdemeanor.
A defense is not knowing that another person used your placard.
A misdemeanor subjects you to up to 6 months in county jail and/or a fine of between $250 and $1,000. You also face a civil penalty of $1,500.
It is a misdemeanor to drive without a valid driver’s license. This includes your failure to obtain a California driver’s license after establishing residency here. For this offense, you have to prove you had a valid license at the time you were driving.
If you have a valid license but do not have it with you when stopped, it is an infraction that will be dismissed once you produce the license or prove it was valid at the time of your offense.