Is It True That California Just Legalized Jaywalking?
Jaywalking is common in California and has been the cause of many accidents and arrests. In fact, California has a history of alleged false arrests due to jaywalking, particularly in communities of color. With the recent increase of jaywalking arrests and accidents, the laws surrounding the issue were altered for the safety of the public.
Until recently, California law prohibited jaywalking. Although, according to CVC 21955, it was illegal for pedestrians to cross the street outside a designated crosswalk. Jaywalking could result in a fine of around $200 or more, possibly plus court costs. However, the laws around jaywalking have changed.
Why Jaywalking Laws Change
Jaywalking laws were set to protect pedestrians but needed to be altered as times changed. The old traffic laws were more complicated, making it more difficult for pedestrians to follow them. As a result, jaywalking became more common, and accidents involving pedestrians and vehicles increased.
Past jaywalking laws have also led to racial targeting and arrests. For example, the case of famous recording artist Tupac Shakur was settled in 1991 after the police stopped the rapper for jaywalking. According to Shakur, instead of simply giving him a ticket, the police used extreme force and wrongly arrested him. Shakur sued the Oakland Police Department for 10 million dollars on the claims of police brutality but later settled for nearly $42,000. The infamous case has made a significant impact on police/neighborhood relations as well as jaywalking laws.
The Freedom to Walk Act
On January 1st, 2023, jaywalking will no longer be a crime. California’s Governor Newsom signed legislation called “The Freedom to Walk Act,” which protects pedestrians from getting jaywalking tickets when they cross a street outside a crosswalk or against a traffic light. However, certain conditions must be met for the pedestrian to be in the clear. For example, AB 2147 states that police officers should not stop and cite a crossing pedestrian unless there is an immediate danger of a collision with a moving vehicle. Simply put, crossing the street dangerously is still a crime.
The Freedom to Walk Act will profoundly impact how Californians use and enjoy public spaces. The Act will give pedestrians the right to use any public space for walking, running, or other pedestrian activities, regardless of whether the space is officially designated as a “walking trail” or not. This means people can walk wherever they want without worrying about being ticketed or arrested.
The Freedom to Walk Act will also give pedestrians the right to sue if they are injured while walking in a public space that is not maintained correctly. This will create a powerful incentive for cities and other entities that own public areas to ensure they are safe and clean for pedestrians.
What if You Get Hurt by a Driver?
Jaywalking is now legalized in California, so it may not be used to defend a driver in an accident case. However, finding liability can be complicated if you were jaywalking recklessly by cutting it too close or if the driver was negligent by speeding. In such cases, it is essential to consult an experienced personal injury attorney to determine who may be held liable.
Your Responsibilities as a Walker
Some of these rules are as follows:
- Obey all traffic laws, signals, and signage.
- Walk on sidewalks as much as possible.
- Whenever possible, use designated crossings or intersections. This will help you stay safe and avoid potential accidents.
- Be aware of cars in all directions when crossing streets, especially those that may be turning. If there are no designated crosswalks or intersections, find a well-lit part of the street with a good view of traffic. Then, wait for an opening in traffic that will give you plenty of time to get across safely.
- It’s essential to avoid walking while intoxicated or impaired, as this can hinder your ability to judge situations and make sound decisions accurately.
Getting Help from A Lawyer After a Pedestrian Accident
If you have been hurt in an accident as a pedestrian, it is crucial to seek legal assistance as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer can help you navigate the complex legal process and ensure that your rights are protected.
The Aratta Law Firm will be able to review the circumstances of your accident and advise you on the best course of action. We will also be able to assist you in dealing with insurance companies and other parties involved in the accident. Call (818) 550-1111 for an immediate consultation with an attorney.