Proposed Changes to the CA Vehicle Code That Could Adversely Affect Bakersfield Drivers
Many Bakersfield drivers will face some grisly charges and consequences if caught up in the new “Sideshow" law recently enacted in California. AB-3 attempts to limit the dangers to the public imposed by street racing and Fast & Furious-type actions by some reckless participants.
A “sideshow” will be defined by CA Vehicle Code as, “…an event in which two or more persons block or impede traffic on a highway, for the purpose of performing motor vehicle stunts, motor vehicle speed contests, motor vehicle exhibitions of speed, or reckless driving, for spectators.” — AB-3.
For those innocents caught up in a Bakersfield Police Department (BPD) “dragnet,” the consequences could be unfortunate. It would be best if you had knowledgeable and experienced traffic attorneys with courtroom experience, proficiency and a reputation of success.
The driver’s license suspension and enhancements are considerable, especially for those whose intentions did not fit the crime. Some were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Although the new consequences of AB-3 will not go into effect until 2025, the current consequences of reckless driving, exhibition of speed or speed contests are severe and can cause financial hardship. Contact a Bakersfield traffic attorney immediately if you are charged with any of these.
Suppose you're driving home from work; you turn onto the street where you live, and there are some temporary traffic barricades in the road. You’re anxious to get home, take a shower and have dinner, so you jump out and move the barrier out of the road. However, as soon as you pick one up, the BPD flash their lights and siren. They jump out of the car and yell, “Freeze!”
At first, you’re bewildered and confused, but then several more police cars screech past you, and you hear the roar of a crowd. You had no way of knowing they had blocked off your street for a Fast & Furious-type racing contest. But there you were with the roadblock in your hands as if you were part of the setup committee.
What should you do? As difficult as it may seem, you should invoke your “right to remain silent” until you can speak with an attorney. You might think, well, I did nothing wrong, why not explain what happened. Please don’t do it. Aiding and abetting a speed contest is a misdemeanor crime, and everything “you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” Speak to an attorney before providing a statement to the BPD or a court official.
What Is an Exhibition of Speed or Speed Contest?
CA Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 23109, Driving Offenses, states, “A person shall not engage in a motor vehicle speed contest on a highway. As used in this section, a motor vehicle speed contest includes a motor vehicle race against another vehicle, a clock, or other timing device.”
It also states that “A person shall not aid or abet in any motor vehicle speed contest on any highway.”
A driver convicted of engaging in a speed contest or aiding or abetting an exhibition of speed can be sentenced to one to 90 days in county jail, a fine of between $355 and $1,000 or both. Fines and jail time increase with subsequent convictions.
How Does CA Traffic Law Look at Reckless Driving?
CVC Section 23103, Driving Offenses, warns, “A person who drives a vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.”
A driver convicted of reckless driving can be sentenced to five to 90 days in county jail, a fine of between $145 and $1,000 or both. Fines and jail time increase with subsequent convictions.
Reckless driving, exhibitions of speed and speed contests are misdemeanor crimes that will stay on your MVR for up to 10 years. What's more, these convictions lead to a DMV assessment of two negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) points. If your driving privileges are restricted, suspended or revoked, you must apply for reinstatement after the suspension period, provide proof of insurance and all court-imposed requirements.
What Is the Wording & Intent of AB-3?
Currently, a driver convicted of “…engaging in a motor vehicle exhibition of speed on a highway or aiding or abetting in a motor vehicle exhibition of speed…” could be sentenced to county jail for up to three months (90 days) and/or a maximum fine of $500. However, the $500 “base fine” does not include the ten authorized state and county fees, surcharges and penalties that could make it around $2,500.
These assessments are added to pay for new court construction, night court operations, DNA testing, emergency medical services, and others that could make your total fine five to seven times the base fine.
This approved amendment adds severe driving restrictions and suspensions. The intent is to implement more severe deterrents and consequences for participation in these events.
AB-3, Fong. Exhibition of Speed on a Highway, “…authorizes the court to order the privilege to operate a motor vehicle suspended for 90 days to 6 months and restrict the person’s operation of a motor vehicle for the purposes of their employment.”
Commercial drivers such as truckers, bus drivers, Uber & Lyft drivers and chauffeurs convicted even while off-duty can have their commercial driver’s license (CDL) revoked or undergo a period of driver disqualification.
However, the court must look at how the suspension will affect the driver’s ability to earn a living and other “hardships” the suspension would impose. In recent years, California has tried to move away from suspensions that put undue hardships on families.
In many cases, the suspension of driving privileges has led to financial hardships many cannot escape. For many, a driver’s license suspension begins a downward financial spiral that ends in homelessness.
Reinstatement of your driving privileges is not automatic and comes with a set of steps outlined in CVC Section 13352.5, Suspension or Revocation of Licenses that must be taken and fees you must pay. Your best option is to avoid suspension by consulting a traffic attorney and following their advice.
Consult Bigger & Harman, APC, about Reckless Driving, Speed Contests or Exhibitions of Speed in Bakersfield in Kern County, CA
Call Bigger & Harman (661) 349-9300 for legal advice to avoid a DL suspension and other consequences.
Conviction of reckless driving or a speed contest charge can leave a permanent scar on your record. Give us a call and follow our instructions to avoid a blemish that could cost more for auto insurance and affect your ability to get or keep employment.
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References:AB-3, Fong. Exhibition of Speed on a Highway.