Vehicle Code 21703 VC - Tailgating (Following Too Closely)

Perhaps you’re here because you’d recently checked your mail to find that you have a Vehicle Code 21703 VC violation waiting for you. Concerned about what it is and what you should do about it? Below, we’ll cover all the basics you’ll want to know to help you see what the best move will be for your driving record now and in the future. Topics covered include:

What is Vehicle Code 21703 VC?

The best place to start with understanding just what this common Vehicle Code violation is with the California legislation. The code itself has a Vehicle Code 21703 VC violation defined as: “The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon, and the condition of, the roadway.”

Thankfully, this is among the simple descriptions and is easy enough to interpret. Essentially, every California driver must use their own trained judgment to follow at a safe distance from the car directly ahead of them, taking the weather, road condition, and respective speeds into consideration. The driver would be in violation by ignoring any or all of these factors.

What does it mean to have violated Vehicle Code 21703 VC?

That all sounds straightforward, but how is it possible to understand something so often considered a personal judgment? For the best results, let’s allow our fictional California driver, Blake, to demonstrate what a violation could look like in real life.

Blake is driving along on a clear, sunny day in San Diego. He’s thinking about his work day as he is driving, and this distraction causes him to get too close to the car directly ahead of him. Since he is closer than the recommended distance, he would be guilty of a Vehicle Code 21703 VC violation.

In a similar example, Blake is driving home from a long work shift and feeling tired and frustrated after a hard day. While he is following at a safe distance in this example, as opposed to the one above, he is more distracted and not as alert as he should be. This distraction causes him not to notice the vehicle ahead is braking, and he is suddenly tailgating this vehicle due to not being alert enough to what’s ahead.

In a third example, Blake is driving to a friend’s house and is following at a safe distance from the vehicle ahead of him. The road conditions are not at their best due to potholes, roadkill, and debris from a recent storm. Blake ignores these conditions and drives at traditional/full speed, even though the driver ahead of him is driving slower to accommodate these poorer road conditions. Since Blake is driving too closely to the other car because the road conditions mean braking and slower movement, he would be in violation.

Fourthly, the weather has brought a thunderstorm to the road that Blake is driving on. It means poorer visibility and wet roads. Other drivers have slowed down and spaced themselves out to adjust for the weather, but Blake doesn’t do that because he’s running late for his date. He is following too closely than is safe to the car ahead of him, so he would be guilty of a Vehicle Code 21703 VC violation.

Lastly, Blake is driving along a clear day and at a safe distance from the car ahead of him. He has been having issues with his brakes and is on the way to the shop to get them looked at and fixed. Knowing that his brakes are faulty, he should leave a larger space between him and the vehicle ahead of him so that he can still brake appropriately if the car ahead of his needs to stop unexpectedly. If he is still following at the traditional distance, even knowing his brakes are inferior, he would be committing a Vehicle Code 21703 VC violation.

As you can imagine, there are some exceptions to this particular violation. It’s essential to be aware of them as much as possible to see if you qualify for them after receiving your citation in the mail!

The first and most common one is that Blake was driving at a safe distance from the driver ahead of him, given all of the information that he had available at the time. Consideration factors like the weather, road conditions, and alertness and braking potential were all factored in, and he was still following at a safe distance. In this case, even if there were a collision, Blake could argue that he is innocent of a Vehicle Code 21703 VC violation because he wasn’t tailgating.

Another typical example is that the driver ahead of Blake is driving so erratically that it is difficult for Blake to remain at a safe distance. Even though Blake is diligent in maintaining as much distance as possible, the other driver is speeding up and slowing down so often that Blake can’t maintain the distance required. He would be innocent of a Vehicle Code 21703 VC violation because he is doing his best.

As with most citation violations, Blake would need to have some proof to back up these claims to fight the traffic ticket. We’ll get into that more next.

What can I do about this violation?

Keeping other more severe violations in mind, a Vehicle Code 21703 VC violation is a minor offense but an important one nonetheless. Considered an infraction, this violation carries a fine of $238 plus court fees and the addition of 1 point to the driver’s record.

When you receive your citation in the mail, it’ll give you a court date on which you must appear to plead your case and the option of attending traffic school. We’ll discuss traffic school a bit later to see if it’s right for you.
On your provided court date, you must show up in court and plead innocent or guilty to the Vehicle Code 21703 VC violation. If you know that you are guilty of this offense, you should plead as such and pay the fine and court fees promptly. Drawing it out for no reason, especially knowing you are guilty of it, can lead to a more severe punishment!

Suppose you believe you are innocent and/or qualify for one of the exceptions discussed above. In that case, however, consulting with an attorney can help you get proper representation in traffic court. Pleading your case honestly is always the best approach, though you will want to consider having an experienced attorney in court to help.

Other possible Vehicle Code violation connections

Often, some code violations will be attached to a driver’s record together, determined by the officer’s professional judgment. Some of the most common accompanying tickets for a Vehicle Code 21703 VC violation include:

  • Vehicle Code 22350: This is a general speeding law in California, with many similar offenses. This particular offense implies that you are driving faster than what is considered safe for the conditions and situation.
  • Vehicle Code 23123: This code is related to distracted driving, which often implies a cell phone or other mobile device. It can also imply mental distraction, though this is sometimes separated.
  • Vehicle Code 23152a/Vehicle Code 23152f: These code violations refer to driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, respectively. These substances impact a driver’s judgment, leading to a different reaction time and/or perception of what is safe.
  • Vehicle Code 23103: This code violation is another general one that implies reckless driving without care of the conditions and situation.

At the time of giving you the ticket and your court date, the officer and the court can choose to add any or all of these offenses to your record. All of these carry their own penalties, so the more they add, the worse the actual penalty combination could be. Any and all of these can be added to or used in place of a Vehicle Code 21703 VC violation.

Is this ticket eligible for traffic school?

In California, drivers can have the option of attending an accredited traffic school to mask the point added to their driving record. As mentioned above, the option of attending will be listed on the citation notice you receive in the mail.
Traffic school is most commonly an option when you receive only 1 DMV point on your record, have not attended traffic school in the past 18 months, and you committed the violation in a personal vehicle rather than a commercial one. The last factor is that the offense must be a moving citation, meaning the ticket is issued for reasons involving a vehicle’s unsafe movement.

Assuming the above details are true in your case, Vehicle Code 21703 VC violation is eligible for traffic school! There are many reasons to consider attending traffic school, even though many assume it’s a “waste of time.”

At MM TRAFFIC SCHOOL, we are a modern accredited traffic school that focuses on making the often drab world of driving education fun, entertaining, and memorable. Our classes are designed with a carefully maintained blend of lectures and interactive material. There is humor added wherever possible, and instructors are engaging, friendly, and approachable.

When attending traffic school is fun, it also means that the education itself is better received, which results in better-prepared drivers when the course ends. This is the goal of the course, after all. Other than a better understanding of driving safety, other perks to attending traffic school include skipping your court date by agreeing to attend traffic school and simply paying your fine, as well as masking the point from the DMV, which will keep your insurance premiums where they are instead of raising them.

If you have any questions or concerns on whether traffic school is right for you, please contact us, and we’ll be happy to help you out. If you’d like more information on your ticket itself, you can also contact the court that issued the ticket!

How can I avoid a citation for a Vehicle Code 21703 VC violation?

When you want to make it your mission to avoid a citation in the first place, the best thing that you can do is focus on how to avoid a ticket by simply driving with a bit more focus on the presentation itself. In the case of a Vehicle Code 21703 VC violation, there are a few approaches that you can take.

Firstly, you’ll want to constantly adjust your driving distance — regardless of weather and road conditions — so that the minimum distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you is the required amount as stated in your driver’s manual. Many driving professionals will recommend leaving even more distance since the minimum is just that — the minimum distance required to stop safely in time should you need to.

Secondly, you’ll want to practice defensive driving, where you assume that the other driver ahead of you will stop unexpectedly, and you’ll have to follow suit. Stay alert and focused on the potential risks can help you adjust your driving distance and prevent you from tailgating.

Thirdly, remember to always adjust for the conditions of the road. Sometimes it’s the weather, other times it’s the actual road conditions themselves, and then there is the other driver’s driving technique and traffic flow itself. The law is essential to follow, but use your own discretion when it comes to slowing down and/or creating more distance between you and the car ahead of you as far as safety. Keep in mind: a Vehicle Code 21703 VC violation is when you deliberately or knowingly tailgate the vehicle ahead of you. If you are doing your best to keep your distance, or are keeping your distance from an erratic driver ahead of you, then you are innocent of this violation!



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