CVC 27315 – Seatbelt Violation

It happens to even the most diligent seatbelt wearers – you’re in a rush to leave and forget to clip your seatbelt in your hurry. Next, you see flashing blue and white in your rearview, signaling you to pull over. You’ve just been issued a ticket for violating CVC 27315. 

So what happens next? You may worry about future court dates, points on your license, if you’ll need a lawyer, or whether this will affect your insurance. We’ll answer all these questions today and share a few tips for understanding CVC 27315, how to keep your driving record clean after receiving one, and some ways to fight it.

What is a CVC 27315 – Seatbelt Violation?

The Motor Vehicle Safety Act, or CVC 27315, is a section of California’s legal code pertaining to vehicle safety belt usage. It was determined by the state legislature that encouraging the use of manual seatbelts is one of the best ways to to reduce traffic deaths and injuries along California highways.

What is a CVC 27315 – Seatbelt Violation?

Here is the full text of the law:

“A person shall not operate a motor vehicle on a highway unless that person and all passengers 16 years of age or over are properly restrained by a safety belt. This paragraph does not apply to the operator of a taxicab, as defined in Section 27908, when the taxicab is driven on a city street and is engaged in the transportation of a  fare-paying passenger. The safety belt requirement established by this paragraph is the minimum safety standard applicable to employees being transported in a motor vehicle. This paragraph does not preempt more stringent or restrictive standards imposed by the Labor Code or another state or federal regulation regarding the transportation of employees in a motor vehicle.”

Additionally, the law states that “properly restrained by a safety belt” means “the lower (lap) portion of the belt crosses the hips or upper thighs of the occupant and the upper (shoulder) portion of the belt, if present, crosses the chest in front of the occupant.”

If you are over 16 and traveling or driving on a California highway, you must be restrained by a properly worn seatbelt. An exception is made for individuals who have a medical reason why they can’t wear a seatbelt – these individuals should always travel with a note from a physician if they are pulled over.

What Are the Consequences of a CVC 27315 Violation?

If you have been issued a ticket for violating CVC 27315, there’s no need to panic. Here’s a breakdown of the consequences:

  • Fines: According to the legal code, a first-time offense of CVC 27315 is a base fine of $20.00, while subsequent violations will be a base fine of $50.00. Remember, a “base fine” is not the final cost after court fees and possible penalty assessments. A CVC 27315 violation costs roughly $162.00, depending on the city or county where you received your ticket.
  • Points: Certain driving violations and infractions can add to your license if you’re unfamiliar with the term. Accumulating too many points will lead to your license being suspended or revoked. In the case of CVC 27315, it’s an infraction that doesn’t carry points. You must attend your court date and pay your fine, NOT DOING SO can lead to greater consequences such as a failure to appear.
What Are the Consequences of a CVC 27315 Violation?

Types of CVC 27315 Violations

Types of CVC 27315 Violations

Beyond the basic requirement for passengers and drivers of vehicles over the age of 16 to wear a safety belt on California highways, there are a few other specific types of CVC 27315 violations to take note of:

  • Improper Seatbelt Maintenance: CVC 27315 specifies that the owner of a motor vehicle must keep their safety belts working in good working order.
  • Car Seats and Booster Seats for Children Under 8: California has different vehicle codes that pertain to car seats and booster seats. Children under the age of two are required by CVC 27360 to be seated in a rear-facing car seat (unless they are more than 40 pounds in weight or 40 inches in height). It also specifies that children under eight must be seated in a car seat or booster seat in the back of the car. Children under eight cannot ride in the front seat, even with a booster or car seat. Violating this vehicle code not only comes with fines but will also put a point on your license.
  • Children Ages 8 to 16: CVC 27360.5 pertains to children over the age of 8 and under the age of 16. As the vehicle’s driver, you can be issued a fine for a passenger in that age range not wearing a seatbelt or proper restraint. Unlike a CVC 27315 violation, CVC 27360.5 will result in a point on your license. 

Can You Go to Traffic School for CVC 27315?

Can You Go to Traffic School for CVC 27315?

For first-time offenders receiving a CVC 27315 violation, the court may order an individual to attend a traffic school instead of paying court costs and fines, provided the school demonstrates the proper use of safety belts. This is not the only benefit of attending a traffic school after a violation. Traffic schools can provide important knowledge to help you become a better driver and be more informed about local laws and ordinances.

Additionally, if you’ve been ticketed for a violation that comes with a point on your driving record, attending traffic school will “mask” it from your record, meaning it won’t be reported to your insurance company. As we mentioned before, having points on your license reported to your insurance can dramatically raise your rate, leaving you with long-term monetary consequences.

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How To Fight CVC 27315 Violation?

Before deciding whether to contest a CVC 27315 violation, you must understand the most common legal defenses. Here are the top three, according to Scouse Law:

  1. There was an emergency that prevented you from properly wearing your seatbelt.
  2. You have a medical condition or physical disability that prevents you from properly wearing a seatbelt. You should have a doctor’s note before the violation before you raise this defense.
  3. There was no probable cause to stop your vehicle other than the seatbelt violation. California law states that a law enforcement officer cannot pull your vehicle over simply for you not wearing a seatbelt. They must have stopped you for another lawful reason before noticing you were not wearing your seatbelt.
How To Fight CVC 27315 Violation?

If you suspect that any of these legal defenses may apply to your situation, fighting the ticket may be in your best interest. These are the steps you should take to fight a CVC 27315 violation:

  • Plead not guilty and request a trial. When you receive a ticket for violating CVC 27315, check the back of it. You will still need to pay the associated fine for the ticket as bail. This will be refunded back to you if you win your case.
  • Gather evidence. To make a legal defense, you must gather evidence supporting your case. Understand the grounds on which you’ll contest the violation, then gather any witness statements, photos, videos, or other documents that will help demonstrate why and under what grounds you feel you should be found not guilty.
  • Attend your trial and present your case. All that’s left to do is show up on your court date and present your case to the judge. Be aware of decorum in the court so that you can respectfully and properly lay out your evidence and witness testimony.

Instead of attending court in person, you may be able to present your case through a trial by written declaration.

How To Write a Trial by Written Declaration for a Seatbelt Violation?

Going to the courthouse to defend yourself and present a case is inconvenient and can be very intimidating for someone who isn’t a lawyer. For traffic tickets, you have the option of a Trial by Written Declaration (TBWD) – a legal process allowing a driver to contest a traffic ticket through the mail instead of in person. 

How To Write a Trial by Written Declaration for a Seatbelt Violation

Here’s how to write a TBWD for a California seatbelt violation (CVC 23715).

  1. Request a TBWD: After receiving a traffic ticket, you’ll have 45 days to submit a request for a TBWD.
  2. Pay your bail: To apply for a TBWD, you must first pay your “bail.” This refers to the fine associated with the ticket, which will be refunded if you win your case.
  3. Fill out the appropriate forms: You’ll need to fill out the basic information on the TBWD form. You’ll also find space for a written declaration. In this section, you’ll provide the basis for your legal argument through a concise and clear account of what happened, as well as provide any photo or video evidence and any witness statements. Ensure you sign and date everything and that all your ducks are in a row before proceeding.
  4. Make copies of your forms: Before sending your documents to the court, make extra copies to keep for your personal record.
  5. Submit your TBWD on time: Once everything is in order, submit the TBWD to the court in person or by mail before the deadline. The law enforcement officer that issued the violation will submit a declaration of their own that the judge reviews.
  6. Wait for the verdict: After the court has reviewed your and the officer’s statements, you will either be found guilty or not guilty. One of the benefits of a TBWD is that if found guilty, you are entitled to a second trial in person, in front of a judge.

Should I Hire a Lawyer for CVC 27315?

Ultimately, it comes down to your personal decision and the complexity of your case when deciding whether or not to hire a lawyer for a seatbelt violation. It’s important to consider, however, that the cost of hiring a lawyer will most likely exceed the cost of your ticket. 

Should I Hire a Lawyer for CVC 27315?

For a violation like CVC 27315 that doesn’t come with a point on your license, you may find that fighting it with a lawyer will be more costly than it’s worth. If you feel as though you have a strong case but aren’t confident in your ability to defend yourself, consider hiring a lawyer after you’ve exhausted the option of having a Trial by Written Declaration or are facing a harsher seatbelt violation (such as CVC 27360 and CVC 27360.5) that can result in points on your license.

How Much Does a CVC 27315 Cost?

As we explained earlier, the $20 first-time offense and $60 for any additional violation of CVC 27315 are the “base fine.” After you add up court costs and other potential penalties, Ticket Bust reports that, on average, the final cost is about $162. This doesn’t consider the lost wages incurred from taking time off of work, different county or city ordinances, or childcare costs associated with attending court.

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