Protect Your Driving Privileges Fight Your Ticket With Bigger & Harman Today

undefinedThe feeling of realizing you're driving the wrong way on the highway can be terrifying. 

Not only does it present immediate danger, but in California, it's also a misdemeanor crime. The consequences extend beyond a simple traffic ticket, which is why understanding your legal position is essential.

However, everything is manageable if you take the logical and sensible steps of pulling over immediately. If you try to evade the law enforcement officer, worse thing can happen.

The Difference Between an Infraction & a Misdemeanor Is Jail Time

An infraction, like a standard speeding ticket, typically results in a fine and negligent operator points if convicted but no jail time. 

“A misdemeanor is a type of offense punishable under criminal law. A misdemeanor is typically a crime punishable by less than 12 months in jail.”Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute (LII).

However, driving the wrong way on the highway is considered a misdemeanor under CA Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 21651Driving on Right Side. The severity of this classification means you're not just looking at a potential fine – you're also facing the possibility of jail time or probation. This distinction amplifies the importance of your legal defense.

“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.”—CVC Section 21651Driving on Right Side

The Consequences of a Wrong Way on the Highway Conviction

Typically, crossing the highway or making an illegal U-turn on the highway is an infraction with a fine of around $238 and the DMV will assess one negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) point. Plus, you might be eligible for traffic violator’s school (TVS). 

Regardless of what is written on the court reminder, always consult a traffic attorney before pleading guilty and accepting TVS. There are instances where it might not make economic sense—especially when you have multiple tickets pending.

If you're convicted for driving the wrong way on the highway, you're likely to face a range of penalties. In addition to potential jail time of 5 to 90 days in the county jail or probation and a fine up to $1,000. A conviction also carries two points against your driver's license, which is halfway to a suspension, and will stay on your record for seven to ten years. Furthermore, your auto insurance premiums will skyrocket because this is risky behavior, and you'll have a criminal record.

An incident of driving the wrong way on the highway can also result in the loss of job opportunities, particularly if your profession involves driving or requires a clean driving record. Commercial drivers, for example, could face job loss due to regulations prohibiting drivers with certain types of convictions.

You Need a Traffic Lawyer with Trial Experience to Help with This Offense

Given the high stakes of a misdemeanor charge for driving the wrong way on the highway, it's crucial to get legal support from an experienced traffic lawyer. While any legal representation is better than none, this isn't the time for an amateur or a generalist.

You need a traffic lawyer with trial experience who understands the complexities of traffic law, negotiation tactics, and the courtroom procedures. They will be able to analyze your case from all angles, identify the strongest defense strategies, and represent your best interests in court. An experienced traffic lawyer can question the evidence, the methods used by law enforcement, and the circumstances leading to the alleged offense.

More importantly, a skilled traffic lawyer will also know how to humanize you in the courtroom. They can present you as a person who made a mistake rather than a reckless individual, influencing the judge's perception and the potential penalties.

Driving the wrong way on the highway is a serious offense with severe consequences. However, it's crucial to remember that a charge is not a conviction. With the right legal defense, you can fight the charges and work towards a favorable outcome. Whether you made a simple mistake or were incorrectly charged, an experienced traffic lawyer can provide the expertise and guidance you need during this challenging time.

Ask Bigger & Harman for Legal Assistance to Dispute Driving the Wrong Way on the Highway

Contact us today for a free, no-obligation initial consultation at (661) 349-9300. Use our handy online contact form to schedule a consultation, or email

Remember, if you are charged with a misdemeanor, it is crucial not to make any statement without an attorney present. Exercise your “right to remain silent,” and call us immediately. 

Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.


The CA Driver Handbook English y Español.

Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute (LII) WEX Definition. 

CVC Section 21651Driving on Right Side.

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