Vehicle Code 21651b VC - Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road

Have you recently received a violation letter in your mail that informs you about receiving a Vehicle Code 21651b VC citation? If so, the information below is going to help you plan your next move, helping you understand the main details to focus on for your upcoming court date, including:

What is Vehicle Code 21651b VC?

Starting with the legal explanation will help you work outwards to understanding what the citation applies to and how to understand why it’s been given to you. The legislative code states that a violation of Vehicle Code 21651b VC is when: “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.”

Thankfully, this is pretty straightforward in its overall meaning. It basically is saying that you must always drive on the right side of the barrier of the road, rather than on the left. Driving on the left of that dividing line would result in a Vehicle Code 21651b VC violation.

What does it mean to have violated Vehicle Code 21651b VC?

While it is comfortably simple to understand, which is nice, it is important to dive into a few examples to really put this violation into everyday life. We’ll use our fictional California driver, Carla, for these.

Carla is on her way to work one day and is frustrated with a car in front of her, who she believes is driving too slowly. Carla pulls over the barrier line and drives past the car in front of her before pulling back into the correct right lane. In this situation, we’re ignoring the passing behavior and focusing on the fact that Carla crossed the barrier lines and is intentionally driving on the left. This counts as a Vehicle Code 21651b VC violation.

In another situation, Carla is driving alone on the street with no other cars around. She is driving on the right side of the lines but is curious about what it would be like to drive on the other side of the line. There is no particular reason for her to do so, but she pulls her car over the line, drives for a minute or two like that, and pulls back over, her curiosity satisfied. Even though no one is put at risk, it would still be a Vehicle Code 21651b VC violation because she is knowingly crossing the lines and driving intentionally on the left.

There are some exceptions that you’ll need to know about when receiving a Vehicle Code 21651b VC violation. If you qualify for these exceptions, you can plead innocent to a Vehicle Code 21651b VC violation.

The first one would be if Carla had no choice but to cross the line in order to avoid a collision or something similar. So, if she was driving to work behind a car and the car suddenly hit its brakes, Carla would be forced to swerve out over the line in order to avoid a collision. In this case, she isn’t acting out of disrespect for the law but out of necessity to prevent injury and damage on both sides.

The second one would be if Carla didn’t know that she was passing over the barrier line. For example, let’s say the line is faded out, and Carla is simply driving along with no line to guide her. If she were to realize later on down the street, with the return of the line, that she was over and pulled back in to correct it, it would be an exception. Carla can’t know that she is over the line because there is no clear line to mark the division of the lanes.

Finally, if Carla didn’t pass over the line, just touched it, she wouldn’t be guilty of a Vehicle Code 21651b VC violation because it’s only for crossing over the line with her tires, not touching it. In this case, it would be a peace officer’s error rather than something that Carla does intentionally.

What can I do about this violation?

As you’ll see noted on your citation in the mail, you’ll have a court date scheduled that you must attend in order to put your plea in. It is essential to attend this court date, as ignoring it can result in charges far worse than the Vehicle Code 21651b VC citation itself.

On your citation letter, you may notice an option of whether or not you can voluntarily attend traffic school as a part of your rehabilitation efforts. We’ll talk about this in more detail below.

This particular offense can either be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony, depending on whether anyone was hurt or killed directly related to your driving on the wrong side of the dividing line.

When charged as a misdemeanor, you can face a fine of up to $1 000 and 6 months to a year spent in county jail. These are the maximum fines, and some courts will use probation in place of jail time, depending on the driver’s record otherwise. This violation also adds 2 points to your DMV driving record.
When charged as a felony, which is used when someone is injured or killed as a direct result of this driving behavior, the penalties can result in higher fees, at times, and will have a heavier jail sentence of up to 3 years. The same DMV point addition will apply as well.

If you are guilty of a Vehicle Code 21651b VC violation, be it a misdemeanor or a felony conviction, the best thing that you can do is plead guilty on your court date and accept the punishment by paying the fines and court fees and accepting your probation or jail time. Dragging the case out unnecessarily will only worsen things.

If you are innocent, however, or you feel that you qualify for one of the exceptions listed above, a traffic court attorney can offer support, experience, and professional guidance to help dismiss the charges. You will require help if pleading innocent since you will need proof of these exceptions. Regardless, pleading honestly, whether innocent or guilty, is always the best thing that you can do.

Other possible Vehicle Code violation connections

Receiving a Vehicle Code 21651b VC is just one of the possible situations you could be dealing with. Sometimes, the officer who delivers the citation will also assess similar traffic violations that can be added to the ticket. The most common ones include:

  • Vehicle Code 21460: This violation can be applied when you cross the lines of a street to drive on the wrong side. In this case, the crossing over of the lines is a violation.
  • Vehicle Code 21657 VC: This violation implies that you are deliberately driving down the street the wrong way, such as on a one-way street.
  • Vehicle Code 23103 VC: This violation states that you are driving recklessly and without considering the safety of other drivers on the road.

When the peace officer issues you your citation, they may choose to add any or all of these to your ticket, depending on the situation surrounding the violation and what the peace officer saw. In some cases, they may choose to use one or more of these citations in place of your Vehicle Code 21651b VC violation. All of these carry different penalties, including point additions, so it’s important to understand what you’re being charged with.

Is this ticket eligible for traffic school?

As introduced above, you may have seen a note on your violation notice that offered you the option of attending an accredited traffic school, like MM TRAFFIC SCHOOL, as part of your penalty for the violation. This is not required and is an option when you receive a moving citation that is not in a corporate vehicle and in a situation where the offender has not attended traffic school in the last 18 months. You’ll be happy to know that Vehicle Code 21651b VC is eligible for traffic school.

When people learn that it isn’t required, they tend to simply skip over it and accept the punishment that the court offers. However, there are several benefits to seriously considering traffic school. One of the biggest ones is that it speeds up the process. If you choose to attend traffic school, you can simply pay your fines, register for a class, and get started. It will help you get back to your normal life a little faster than the traditional route.

Another benefit is that attending traffic school is all about helping you become a better driver. MM TRAFFIC SCHOOL focuses on fun, informative classes that teach logical and entertaining content to students. What you learn in this institution isn’t going to be dry or boring. Instead, it’s engaging and logical so that it is easy to remember. You will enjoy your time in traffic school, and it will end up in you being a better informed, more confident driver. This is a huge part of what it’s all about, after all.

Finally, the last perk is all about what it does for your driving record. DMV points can stay on your public record for up to 3 years. These points can impact your insurance premiums and drive them up for several years after that. Attending traffic school will mask those points from your record, saving you the inconvenience and frustration of it.

There are a lot of positives to consider when looking at the option of attending traffic school for your Vehicle Code 21651b VC. If you have questions or concerns on traffic school, your ticket, or just in general, contact us, and we’ll be happy to fill you in on everything that we can regarding driving school and your Vehicle Code 21651b VC citation.

If you need questions answered on your particular offense and your driving profile, you can also call the court that issued your ticket to you.

How can I avoid a Vehicle Code 21651b VC violation?

While a Vehicle Code 21651b VC violation is straightforward compared to other types of tickets, it still can carry a penalty that will make your driving-related life harder. As such, learning how to avoid this citation in the first place is a great idea. Here are some tips to help you out with just that.

The main way to do just that is to see the dividing line between the right and left-hand side as being a formal barrier. Can you technically cross over it and drive down the wrong side of the road? Sure. But, it won’t be worth your time or effort. Always see it as a former barrier rather than just a painted line since it will help you remember this even in those moments where you are tempted.

This temptation often sets in when we grow accustomed to driving and are either impatient or looking for a thrill. However, driving a car is a serious responsibility, and breaking the law by crossi\ng over the lines to “live a little” can have very serious consequences. One of these is a Vehicle Code 21651b VC violation, which can follow you for years if you choose to bypass traffic school.

When you receive your license, you are also binding yourself to the California driving code, and breaking that code deliberately means that you are guilty of violations such as this one. Keep that in mind, and the temptation won’t be so worthwhile after all, will it? Please remember: receiving a Vehicle Code 21651b VC violation means that you are deliberately crossing over the barrier line for no reason. If you have no choice to cross over it, or you are unaware that you are crossing it, this violation doesn’t apply!



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