Driving the wrong way on a roadway is not only dangerous, it is a misdemeanor crime in the state of California. Driving the wrong way on a public road, especially a freeway, can have grievous consequences beyond possibly fatal accidents, including substantial fines and imprisonment. However, this is what is known as a “wobbler” offense; in that, the judge upon hearing a rational explanation from a criminal defense lawyer can reduce the charge to an infraction when there was no accident or injuries.
CA Vehicle Code (CVC) 21651 Defines Driving the Wrong Way
CVC 21651 (b), Driving on Right Side states, “It is unlawful to drive any vehicle upon a highway, except to the right of an intermittent barrier or a dividing section which separates two or more opposing lanes of traffic.” Paragraph (c) goes on to explain that willfully violating this section of traffic law when it results in injuries or fatalities can culminate in up to six months in jail.
A driver is in violation of this traffic code when they drive the wrong way down the freeway. When a highway has barriers or dividing sections, drivers to the left of these boundaries who drive facing oncoming traffic violate this code. Other code violations include making an illegal U-turn or an unauthorized turn while driving on a divided highway with two or more lanes of opposing traffic. When that driver causes an accident due to driving the wrong way they could face a significant fine and jail time, plus the possibility of additional penalties in Civil Court.
Entering the Freeway from an Exit Ramp
While driving, a person must pay close attention to all the road signs especially the on-ramps and the exit ramps. A person distracted while driving might enter the freeway by entering an exit ramp and drive the wrong way. This action can have dangerous consequences. So too, is the driver that makes a right turn at what was meant for a legal U-turn to reverse direction. People more concerned with their music or phone are apt to make a wrong turn, accidentally drive onto an exit ramp to enter the freeway and cause a catastrophic accident. As we are all aware, the speed limit on CA freeways are 65 or 70 mph, and many drivers travel faster than the speed limit.
Consult with a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Shafter, CA
A driver who gets a traffic ticket for making a wrong turn and wound up going the wrong way on the freeway needs to consult with a criminal defense attorney. Whether you get charged with a misdemeanor or infraction, you face severe penalties that could affect your way of life. A substantial fine is just the beginning if convicted. The DMV will also assess two Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS) points, which when your insurance company learns of these, usually at renewal, they will take your “good driver’s discount” away and place you in an increased risk category, which could raise your premium by 50 percent or more. Plus, a conviction on a misdemeanor means possible jail time and a criminal record. An attorney can help you challenge the ticket, get a dismissal, or reduce the charge to an infraction.
It is advisable to consult with a traffic ticket attorney before you make any statement to law enforcement or court officials. “You have the right to remain silent,” use it. Everything you tell a police officer is allowable as evidence. Speak with a lawyer first to keep your driving and criminal record clean.
Call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755. Or, drop by our office at 1701 Westwind Dr #203 in Bakersfield.
We have gotten favorable results, dismissals or reduced penalties for over 2000 clients in Central Valley traffic and criminal courts, and some SoCal courts. Send us an email, email@example.com, or a private message on our Facebook, where you can find client comments and feedback. Also, read comments left by our clients on Avvo and Nolo or Yelp.
The 2018 CA Driver Handbook .pdf
The DMV.CA.GOV website
CVC 21651 (b), Driving on Right Side