All drivers (and pedestrians) have experienced a moment of uncertainty at a crosswalk. Who goes first? When is it your turn? California Vehicle Code 21950 — or the ‘Failure to Yield to a Pedestrian’ law — is an important piece of the puzzle.
Whether you just want to be a safer driver or you’ve already been cited for a CVC 21950 and need to know what to do next, you’re in the right place. Read on for everything you need to know about CVC 21950 – Failure to Yield to a Pedestrian.
What Is a CVC 21950 – Failure to Yield to a Pedestrian?
California Vehicle Code 21950, or CVC 21950, is the California traffic statute that requires drivers to yield to pedestrians crossing a roadway in any marked or unmarked crosswalk.
Here’s the full language of the law:
|21950. (a) The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.
(b) This section does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for their safety. No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.
(c) The driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian within any marked or unmarked crosswalk shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other action relating to the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian.
(d) Subdivision (b) does not relieve a driver of a vehicle from the duty of exercising due care for the safety of any pedestrian within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.
(e) (1) A peace officer, as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2 of the Penal Code, shall not stop a pedestrian for a violation of this section unless a reasonably careful person would realize there is an immediate danger of a collision with a moving vehicle or other device moving exclusively by human power.
(2) This subdivision does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for their safety.
(3) This subdivision does not relieve a driver of a vehicle from the duty of exercising due care for the safety of any pedestrian within the roadway.
Do Drivers Have to Yield to Pedestrians in California?
Yes. According to the California Vehicle Code (CVC) 21950, drivers are required to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. This means that if a pedestrian is already in the crosswalk, drivers must slow down or stop completely until the pedestrian has reached a place of safety.
However, the law also states that pedestrians must not suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle close enough to constitute an immediate hazard. And even though pedestrians have the right-of-way in these circumstances, the law also states that they can’t unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.
What Does CVC 21950 Require for Drivers?
Here’s everything CVC 21950 requires for drivers:
- Yield to pedestrians. Drivers are required to yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked or unmarked crosswalk.
- Stop or slow down. When a pedestrian is in a crosswalk, drivers must slow down — or stop completely if necessary. They must remain stopped until the pedestrian has passed their lane.
- Exercise due care. Drivers should exercise all due care to protect the safety of pedestrians. This means slowing down and stopping whenever necessary. No matter what the circumstances, drivers are required to take preventative measures to avoid endangering pedestrians’ safety.
- Passing vehicles. Drivers are prohibited from passing other vehicles that are stopped at a marked or unmarked crosswalk for a pedestrian.
What Does CVC 21950 Require for Pedestrians?
While CVC 21950 largely focuses on driver behavior, it also outlines some responsibilities for pedestrians. Here’s everything CVC 21950 requires for pedestrians:
- Avoid immediate hazards. Pedestrians shouldn’t suddenly leave the curb or another place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is close enough to constitute an immediate hazard.
- Don’t delay traffic unnecessarily. While pedestrians have the right-of-way in marked or unmarked crosswalks, the law tells them not to unnecessarily obstruct or delay traffic while in a crosswalk.
- Crosswalks are mandatory in some cases. If a crosswalk is available, pedestrians should not cross the road at any other place. They must also use overhead pedestrian crossings or tunnels if they are available.
Types of CVC 21950 Violations
CVC 21950 violations typically fall into a few different categories. Here are the types you’re most likely to run into:
- Failure to yield. This is the most common violation under CVC 21905. It occurs when a driver does not yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway in a crosswalk.
- Failure to stop or slow down. Drivers are required to stop or slow down if a pedestrian is crossing in a crosswalk. Failure to do so is a violation of CVC 21950.
- Overtaking another vehicle at a crosswalk. If a vehicle is stopped at a crosswalk to allow a pedestrian to cross, it’s a violation to pass the stopped vehicle.
- Not exercising due care. Even if a pedestrian is not acting appropriately, drivers are expected to exercise due care and take any action necessary to avoid hitting them. Failure to do so violates CVC 21950.
- Endangering a pedestrian. If a driver’s actions create a dangerous situation for a pedestrian, this could be considered a violation of CVC 21950, even if no collision occurs.
What Are the Consequences of a CVC 21950 Violation?
Violating CVC 21950 can lead to many different consequences, including fines and points added to your driving record. Here’s what to expect if you get a CVC 21950 ticket:
- Fines and fees. The base fine for violating CVC 21950 is $238. However, the ticket will also include court and administrative fees, which vary depending on the county where you received your ticket. The actual cost, if you decide to just plead guilty and pay the fine, can reach $1,000 or more.
- Points on your driving record. Under California’s Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS), a failure to yield ticket is a one-point violation. Keep in mind that if you accumulate too many points on your driving record, you can face other consequences under NOTS, including license suspension or revocation.
- Increased insurance premiums. In addition to the fines and fees from your ticket, getting a point on your driving record will almost always cause your insurance premiums to increase. There are ways to avoid this, though (more on that below).
Is It a Crime to Fail to Yield to a Pedestrian?
Violating CVC 21950 is not a crime in California — it’s an infraction. It won’t go on your criminal record, and you won’t face jail time or other criminal penalties.
Can You Go to Traffic School for CVC 21950?
Yes! Most California drivers who receive a CVC 21950 ticket are eligible for traffic school, and if you successfully complete a course, you can mask the point from your license. This doesn’t remove it from your driving record, but it does hide it from insurance companies so your premiums won’t increase, which can save you hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars over time.
You’ll need approval from the court to attend traffic school to mask the violation. You’ll also need to pay all fines and fees associated with your ticket, as well as a traffic school court administration fee. But for many drivers, going this route will save money in the long run, even if it’s a bit expensive upfront.
How to Fight a CVC 21950 Violation?
If you’ve been given a CVC 21950 violation that you don’t believe you deserved, there are several ways you can fight the charge.
Here’s what to do to fight your ticket in court:
- Plead not guilty. It’s important to do this by the date listed on your citation.
- Gather evidence. Collect any evidence that supports your case. This could be photographs of the intersection where the incident occurred, traffic camera footage if available, or witness testimonies.
- Attend court and present your case. You’ll present all your evidence and a judge will decide whether you’re guilty or not guilty.
If you don’t want to go to court, you can also try to fight the ticket via trial by written declaration.
How to Write a Trial by Written Declaration for Failure to Yield?
A trial by written declaration is a formal process that allows you to contest a low-level infraction in writing, without appearing in court.
Here’s what to do to fight your ticket via trial by written declaration:
- Request a trial by written declaration. First, contact your local court (the information should be on your ticket) and request a trial by written declaration. If you’re eligible, they’ll provide you with the necessary forms, which usually include a Request for Trial by Written Declaration (TR-205) and a Statement of Facts (TR-210 or TR-215).
- Prepare your statement. In your statement of facts, you’ll want to provide a detailed, factual, and logical argument as to why you’re not guilty of the alleged violation. Write in the first person and be clear, concise, and factual. If you have any evidence to support your claim, such as photographs or witness statements, make sure to reference them in your statement and attach them to your declaration.
- Submit your forms and pay bail. Fill out the forms completely. Be sure to include your citation number and other required information. Submit them to the court along with payment for the fines and fees associated with your ticket, also known as bail. This money will be refunded to you if you’re found not guilty.
- Wait for the verdict. Once the court receives your written declaration, a judge will review your case and make a decision. You’ll be notified by mail of the verdict.
If you’re found guilty via trial by written declaration, you can appeal the decision. Doing so will require you to appear in person in court at a later date.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for a CVC 21950?
Whether or not to hire a lawyer for a CVC 21950 violation, or “failure to yield to a pedestrian,” largely depends on your personal situation, the complexity of the case, and potential consequences.
While traffic attorneys can provide significant help, they also come at a cost. It’s important to weigh the lawyer’s fees against the potential fines, increase in insurance rates, and other consequences of the violation. Always consider your specific situation and consult with a legal professional to make an informed decision.
How Much Does a CVC 21950 Cost?
The base fine for a CVC 21950 is $238. You can expect to pay administrative and court fees on top of that, which vary by county but will likely cost another several hundred dollars.
But that’s not the end of what a CVC 21950 violation costs. Getting a point on your driving record can cause your insurance premiums to increase, costing you more money every time you pay for your premiums for years.
On average, in California, a single traffic violation can cause your insurance premium to increase by about 20-30%. However, in some cases, it can be much more. The best-case scenario might be a small increase of around 10-15% if your insurer offers forgiveness for a first-time minor violation, while the worst-case scenario could see rates double, especially for serious violations or if it’s not your first violation.
It’s also worth noting that points for most violations stay on your record for 3 years in California, meaning they can affect your insurance premiums for at least that long.
Mask Your CVC 21950 Violation from Your Driving Record With Best Online Traffic School
You can reduce the cost of a CVC 21950 violation by masking the point from your driving record — and for that, you need to go to traffic school.
Getting a ticket is already a hassle, so make traffic school easy by choosing an affordable, convenient, online course — like Best Online Traffic School.
Our course is approved and licensed by the DMV in all of California’s counties. It’s also one of the most affordable courses on the market, at just $$19.99 with no hidden fees. Plus, you don’t have to pay until after you pass, so there’s no risk to you at all.
Complete our course from anywhere, on your own devices, at your own pace. Many students complete the course in a single sitting, but you can also take your time. Once you pass your final exam and pay for the course, we’ll electronically submit your certificate of completion to your court so you can get that point off your record.
Getting a ticket doesn’t need to mean pricey insurance premium increases. Start traffic school today — for free — with Best Online Traffic School.