After it passed the State Assembly by a wide margin, the State Senate is poised to consider a measure that would clearly legalize and regulate lane-splitting in Apple Valley and Barstow.
The Appropriations Committee unanimously voted to send Assembly Bill 51 to the Senate floor. According to its sponsor, Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), the proposal allows the CHP to set guidelines regarding lane-splitting. That agency regularly issued such guidelines until 2015, when a citizen complained that the CHP should not be able to make public policy. This bill expressly gives the CHP authority to regulate this practice.
AB-51 nearly became law last year, but last-minute objections to speed limit restrictions in the proposal forced Mr. Quirk to go back to the drawing board.
Here’s a fun fact you can use to impress your friends and dazzle your dates: under current law in California, it is neither legal nor illegal for motorcycles to operate between lanes. The closest provision is VC 21658, which requires vehicles to stay in a single lane on multi-lane roads. The CHP has fairly consistently taken the position that lane-splitting is okay as long as the riders are not operating their bikes recklessly.
For the record, a VC 21658 infraction is a one-point violation that has a $229 total bail fee (fine and penalty assessments). Given the uncertainty in the law, an aggressive officer could issue a citation for lane-splitting and the court would probably uphold it.
One of the best approaches in these cases, and other ones as well, is to get the charges reduced. With regard to VC 21658 violations and similar cases, there is a nearby no-point infraction with a lower fine, and many prosecutors agree to reduce the charges if it means they can avoid a time-consuming and risky trial.
Getting Legal Help
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