Vehicle Code 21804 VC - Entering a Highway from a Side Road

If you’ve opened your mail recently and discovered that you’ve received a Vehicle Code 21804 VC violation, you might be wondering just what it is and, more importantly, what you can do about it. Below is your comprehensive guide on this code violation and how you can deal with it. We’ll cover all of the essentials, including:

What is Vehicle Code 21804 VC?

To help you get a sense of just what you’re dealing with, let’s start with the California legislative definition and work from there. A violation of Vehicle Code 21804 is listed as: “The driver of any vehicle about to enter or cross a highway from any public or private property, or from an alley, shall yield the right-of-way to all traffic, as defined in Section 620, approaching on the highway close enough to constitute an immediate hazard, and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to that traffic until he or she can proceed with reasonable safety […]A driver having yielded as prescribed in subdivision (a) may proceed to enter or cross the highway, and the drivers of all other vehicles approaching on the highway shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle entering or crossing the intersection.”

There are a lot of words in there and multiple understandings of how to interpret them. This is part of why understanding the law is so complicated. Let’s take it apart bit by bit and really understand it.

If you’re in a driveway, parking lot, or alley, you need to yield to traffic on the highway before you can pull onto it. If there are cars too close for you to pull out safely, you must yield to them. Then once you pull out onto the roadway safely, the other cars must yield to you. There are a lot of ways that this can be misinterpreted, as you can imagine, so having a comprehensive understanding of this vehicle code violation is crucial for keeping yourself safe on the road!

What does it mean to have violated Vehicle Code 21804 VC?

Now that we’ve got a basic understanding of what a Vehicle Code 21804 VC violation is let’s spend some time getting a bit more familiar with it by putting our fictional driver, Bea, through a few example situations. Sometimes an example is the best way to see how a traffic violation could happen in the real world, after all, right?

Bea is backing out of her driveway onto a main highway. She sees that there is a traffic pack coming up on her, so she backs out in the road as fast as she can to make sure that she doesn’t have to wait for the entire thing to pass her before she can do so. However, the oncoming traffic was close enough to be considered “hazardous,” causing many of them to have to brake firmly to avoid hitting her. In this case, Bea would be guilty of a Vehicle Code 21804 VC violation because she knowingly pulled out when traffic was too close rather than yielding.

In another situation, Bea is pulling out onto a main highway from an alley. She intends to turn left and is watching the traffic. The traffic in her closest lane is busy, but the traffic on the other side is clear. Bea pulls out and crosses over to the other side of the road. She pulls out illegally from the alleyway but legally enters the flow of traffic on the other side. Even though her destination side of the roadway was safe, the lane that she crossed over first was not. So, she’s guilty of a Vehicle Code 21804 VC violation here.

As you can see, it’s about entering a main roadway without giving the right-of-way to the traffic already on the road. They shouldn’t need to brake or adjust their speed in order for Bea to enter in. Now, once Bea enters the roadway safely and legally, they are required to adjust to her driving. As long as she pulls out by allowing the other drivers to have their right-of-way, she’s awarded the same respect on the road.

There are a few exceptions to receiving a Vehicle Code 21804 VC violation. Most of those are going to be about interpreting what is safe and what isn’t.

For example, Bea determines that she has enough space and opportunity to pull out into oncoming traffic safely, but the law enforcement officer doesn’t. In that case, it’s a matter of judgment because there is no determination of how much distance or time there should be between the entering car and oncoming traffic.

The second common exemption would be if the oncoming traffic sped up or otherwise changed their driving habits as Bea pulled out onto the roadway. If the oncoming traffic decides to scare Bea, they could speed up so quickly that they’d be right on her bumper by the time that she pulls out properly. Or, they changed lanes or drove so erratically that, had they done that earlier, Bea wouldn’t have pulled out.

In both of these situations, a Vehicle Code 21804 VC violation wouldn’t apply because Bea was in the right as far as her assessment and judgment are considered. It’s the peace officer’s perception, or the other driver’s actions, that are in the wrong. However, these all need proof in a courtroom.

What can I do about this violation?

On your mailed citation notice, you’ll be able to see some basic information on your ticket, including which it is, when your court date is, and whether or not it’s eligible for you to attend traffic school (which we’ll talk about later).

You’ll need to show up to court at your appointed time — missing the court date will simply worsen the punishment — and enter your plea. If you know that you’ve committed the offense and don’t qualify for any of the exemptions, you should plead honestly. After pleading guilty, there is a fine of $238 plus court fees that you’ll need to pay, and you’ll have 1 DMV point added to your record.

If you are innocent, you should plead as such and then prepare to argue your case. As we mentioned earlier, you will need to have proof that you qualify for an exemption. While you don’t need a traffic court attorney, it is a good idea to have one to help you gather the evidence and make the case in court.

Other possible Vehicle Code violation connections

There are a lot of vehicle code violations out there, and there are some crossover themes, as you can imagine. Some of the most common ones that you might see attached to your Vehicle Code 21804 VC include the following:

  • Vehicle Code 21800-21803: This is a broad range of laws that all have their own descriptions. But they all generally relate to failing to yield as directed by signs.
  • Vehicle Code 22108: This violation refers to when you change lanes without signaling properly, as advised in the driver’s manual.
  • Vehicle Code 22111: You can receive this citation if you don’t use proper hand signals when turning or otherwise driving.

Depending on the situation surrounding your citation, the peace officer and/or court issuing your Vehicle Code 21804 VC citation could add any or all of these similar vehicle code violations to your current ticket. It depends mostly on what the peace officer and court official determine best based on why and how you received your Vehicle Code 21804 VC. As well they may choose to use any or all of these similar violations in place of your ticket for a Vehicle Code 21804 VC violation. Since all of these tickets can have their own punishments and fines, you’ll find that adding these tickets can make your court case trickier!

Is this ticket eligible for traffic school?

Some tickets can be made easier to deal with with the benefit of traffic school. These tickets must be a moving citation, committed in a personal vehicle (as opposed to a commercial one,) and you can’t have attended traffic school too recently. So, if that all applies to you, you’ll be happy to learn that yes, a Vehicle Code 21804 VC violation is eligible for traffic school.

Attending an accredited traffic school, such as MM TRAFFIC SCHOOL, is going to be a great choice when looking at doing the best thing for their driving record. To help you see that for yourself, let’s take a close look at some of the biggest benefits of considering traffic school.

The first one is it’s going to help you process your ticket faster. If you agree to attend traffic school, you’ll be able to start classes immediately and, after graduating, enjoy a record where the 1 DMV point you would have gotten is masked.

Another perk is that you’ll be able to enjoy the classes that you take — yes, seriously. Our school isn’t cut and dry or boring. Our classes are designed for modern learners and will keep you engaged, laughing, and learning much better than you might have thought possible in something as dry as traffic school.

For more benefits, think about how much more confident this memorable instruction is going to make you when you get behind the wheel! You’ll be able to know that you’ve got the education and knowledge to be the most confident driver as possible. This coincides with the next perk, which is that attending an accredited traffic school will make you the best driver that you can possibly be — and that’s what it’s all about.

If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help you improve your driving confidence, or even if you want some more information on your Vehicle Code 21804 VC violation, you can contact us. If you want a bit more specific advice on your actual citation itself, you can also reach out directly to the court that issued your ticket!

How can I avoid a citation for a Vehicle Code 21804 VC violation?

Protecting yourself from receiving a Vehicle Code 21804 VC violation is going to be your best bet when you are on the road. After all, attending traffic school and making room for a court date in your schedule are still hassles. You can protect your DMV record by focusing on a few details.

Mainly, you’ll want to ensure that you do give proper distance and right-of-way to the other drivers when you are entering a main roadway. Don’t try to cheat the system or “sneak on out there” while you can. If there is a lot of traffic coming on, but you think you might be able to squeak out first, don’t try it. The hassle of the courtroom, fees, and potentially attending traffic school isn’t going to be worth an extra minute or so of wait time, right?

The other thing that can help you is to pretend that every other driver out there on the roadway is going to give you a problem. No, it isn’t pessimistic; it’s just defensive. Assume that they might be driving faster than you assume when you check or that a car may be hidden in your blind spot that puts you too close to them. Even if neither of those things is true, it’s always best to protect yourself! Remember: Getting a Vehicle Code 21804 VC violation is only when you deliberately pull onto a main roadway while not giving the right-of-way to other drivers already there. If you give them the space they need, but other drivers abuse that, then the violation doesn’t apply.



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