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What Defines a Non-Emergency Stop on the Freeway

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CA Vehicle Code (CVC) 21718, “Additional Driving Rules” states, “No person shall stop, park, or leave standing any vehicle upon a freeway…” This section of the CA code goes on to outline several situations in which it is legal, or where the driver has no choice but to stop. But, what is a non-emergency stop? Is running out of time on your electronic logging device (ELD) before the mandatory 30-minute break within eight-hours of driving a non-emergency stop? Is reaching the 11-hour mark for daily driving a non-emergency stop on the freeway? What about when you’re so fatigued you can’t keep your eyes open any longer? Most would consider the latter as more of an emergency than meeting the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) regulatory requirements for hours of service (HOS). However, a misstep like a failure to comply with those requirements could cost you your job and quite possibly your career.

Many would say failing to plan for these requirements does not constitute an emergency. It’s often difficult to plan around a four hour wait at the loading platform or two hours stuck in traffic. What about running out of gas? Wouldn’t that be a failure to plan? Most would consider that an emergency stop. The point we’re trying to make is this: legislation does not define what a non-emergency stop is. Therefore, when ticketed it would be wise to enlist the aid of a traffic ticket attorney.

One thing is always true, never use an escape ramp for a rest stop or non-emergency stop. You never know when a runaway truck with no brakes will need to use that ramp. There are very few excuses law enforcement will accept for using one other than a bona fide emergency.

Emergency Stop or Non-Emergency Stop, What’s Legal?

The truth is we’ve probably all been there at one time or another. Even those who were fortunate enough to have never had this happen have seen a driver beside their car or truck watching the steam billow out from under the hood. Or, perhaps another unfortunate driver has a gas can in one hand and the thumb of the other up hitching a ride to the nearest gas station. These are obviously emergency stops, but what else is legal? The following exceptions are listed in CVC 21718:

  • When it is necessary to prevent damage or injury
  • When told to do so by law enforcement or a traffic control sign or device
  • When you have a disabled vehicle
  • When towing a disabled vehicle or rendering assistance
  • Official vehicles performing maintenance
  • When making an emergency phone call for medical or law enforcement help
  • To remove freeway obstructions

Although these and others are open to interpretation, most others are non-emergency stops that may result in a ticket.

Penalties for a Non-Emergency Stop

The fine for a non-emergency stop on the freeway is around $230-250 depending on the CA County. However, the fine is just the beginning. If you are not eligible to attend traffic school to mask the conviction from your insurance company, the resultant rise in auto insurance premiums could be $1000-1500 due to the negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) point assessed by the DMV. A non-emergency stop on the highway can also get you two to six Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) points as well, depending on your time-weight factor. Always consult with a traffic attorney when you receive a traffic ticket.

Traffic Attorneys Who Regularly Practice in Riverside

When you receive a ticket for a non-emergency stop on I-5 or 10, call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755. Bigger & Harman practice traffic law in Riverside County Traffic Courts and understand the difficulty of being on the road up to 60 hours a week. They also know it is imperative for CDL holders to keep a clean driving record.

These days, even with the driver shortage, fleet managers have a zero-defect mentality when it comes to moving violations. A speeding ticket conviction in your private vehicle could very easily lead to a termination.

Send them an email, today attorney@biggerharmanlaw.com.

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References:

The 2018 CA Commercial Driver Handbook .pdf

CVC 21718, “Additional Driving Rules”