Vehicle Code 21950 - Failure to Yield to a Pedestrian

Receiving a traffic citation can ruin a day faster than most things. But do you know how to transform that day into a good one again? Learn about your recent Vehicle Code 21950 VC violation so you can know what to expect at your court hearing, how to recover from it, and what to know for the future! Below, we’ll go over all of the basics, including:

What is Vehicle Code 21950 VC?

It’s always best to start with the legislation since that will be the legal content used to determine if you are innocent or guilty of a Vehicle Code 21950 VC violation. Here is the main gist of it:

“(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.”

There are a few other details to this code, too, but we’ll discuss them below properly since they can be confusing when you see them combined as exclusions or additions to the legal Vehicle Code 21950 VC violation definition above!

What does it mean to have violated Vehicle Code 21950 VC?

If you can get through this long legal definition, you’ll find that a Vehicle Code 21950 VC violation isn’t too complicated. However, the language can confuse even those with the best intentions. So, let’s put our fictional California driver, Thola, into some situations and see how they would look in real life.

In the first situation, Thola is driving along, and she comes up to a pedestrian crossing. A pedestrian has already entered the crossing and, therefore, has the right of way. Thola is frustrated at having to yield, so she keeps driving and swerves around the pedestrian. The pedestrian could either stop moving and wait, or they just happen to be enough of the way that they are uninjured by Thola zooming past.

In this case, she is guilty of a Vehicle Code 21950 VC violation because she disobeyed the need to yield to the pedestrian who was already very clearly in the pedestrian crossing.

This same situation would also apply if the pedestrian crosses at an unmarked crosswalk. In this case, drivers have the right-of-way on the road, and pedestrians have to yield. However, if the pedestrian is already crossing the road (i.e., has stepped off the curb and is in the act of crossing), drivers are legally obligated to stop and yield so they can cross safely. So, Thola would also receive a Vehicle Code 21950 VC violation if she sped past a crossing pedestrian in this situation.

In another situation, Thola is yielding to a pedestrian at a crosswalk (marked or otherwise), and the pedestrian is almost across her side of the street. In a rush to get home before her roommate, Thola quickly accelerates and nearly hits the pedestrian as she zooms on past. In this situation, a Vehicle Code 21950 VC violation applies because she is required to exercise caution when driving near or past pedestrians.

Similarly, Thola would also receive a violation if she drove past the pedestrian who had safely passed, even at the marked speed limit. Part of the Vehicle Code 21950 VC law is that drivers must reduce speed when driving near pedestrians. Even though she didn’t zoom on past in this case, she’s still guilty of the violation because she is driving too fast for pedestrian safety.

Lastly, Thola cannot beat a pedestrian to an upcoming pedestrian crossing. If she is driving along and sees a pedestrian approaching a crossing, the legal action is to continue at her pace or even slow down a bit in preparation for yielding to the pedestrian who will cross. If she speeds up to get to the crosswalk before the pedestrian, specifically so she does not have to stop, she’s guilty of a Vehicle Code 21950 VC violation.

There are a few exceptions to this vehicle code violation, of course. The biggest and most likely one is that the peace officer issuing the ticket made a mistake, and Thola did yield to the pedestrian. The same would be true if she drove past the pedestrian at a slower speed, as directed.

Another exception will be if the pedestrian does not properly warn the driver that they are going to cross, whether at a marked or unmarked crossing. Thola can only adjust her driving if she has ample warning or expectation that a pedestrian will cross. If a pedestrian randomly steps onto a crosswalk out of nowhere or just steps onto the street, Thola wouldn’t be guilty of a Vehicle Code 21950 VC violation because she could not expect those actions.

Likewise, another violation expectation would be if Thola is approaching a marked crosswalk and a pedestrian tries to beat Thola to it by increasing their speed and, essentially, hurling themselves onto the street when they know that Thola is too close. In this case, Thola is innocent of the Vehicle Code 21950 VC violation because the pedestrian is the one who caused the issue intentionally, not Thola.

The bottom line with a Vehicle Code 21950 VC violation is that it is applied when drivers do not take proper care when approaching crosswalks or pedestrians. If they have taken care, a Vehicle Code 21950 VC violation doesn’t apply. Pedestrians are also responsible for giving ample warning when they use a crosswalk (pausing at the crosswalk to watch for traffic or waiting until traffic is far enough away from them to cross safely, etc.).

What can I do about this violation?

If you receive this traffic citation, you’ll receive a court date in the letter that you get in the mail. You must appear in court on that date and plead innocent or guilty of a Vehicle Code 21950 VC violation. If you are guilty, you’ll have to pay a $238 fine plus court fees. You’ll also have 1 DMV point added to your record.

You might have the possibility of masking that DMV point if you attend traffic school. This will be noted in your citation letter, and we’ll talk about that in detail later on, so you can know your options.

As always, you should enter your plea honestly. If you are guilty, enter your plea and pay your fines. This will minimize wasted time and potential additional charges and violations from the court if you pursue an innocent plea and know that you are guilty.

If you are innocent and believe you qualify for one of the exceptions, then you should pursue that in court. It can be very challenging to prove an innocent case, so you’ll want to strongly consider having an experienced traffic court attorney at your side to help you out. Plus, if you have an attorney, you don’t need to attend traffic court yourself, saving you time and inconvenience.

Other possible Vehicle Code violation connections

Other vehicle code violations are similar to a Vehicle Code 21950 VC violation. Sometimes, one of these codes can be added to your case if the peace officer and the court determine that it’s accurate to your situation. Some of the most common ones are below:

  • Vehicle Code 21800: This violation refers to when you do not give right-of-way to a vehicle in an intersection as you approach it.
  • Vehicle Code 21801: This traffic violation occurs when you complete a U-turn without yielding to the oncoming traffic, as required.
  • Vehicle Code 21802: This violation applies when a driver does not stop at a stop sign/signal as required before proceeding into an intersection or completing a turn.
  • Vehicle Code 21803: A driver receives this violation if they come to a yield sign at an intersection but don’t yield, as directed, to the other drivers who are already present (and have the right-of-way).
  • Vehicle Code 21804: This violation is when you are pulling out of an alleyway or driveway and don’t yield to the traffic that is already on the road on which you are pulling out.
  • Vehicle Code 21806: Drivers can receive this traffic violation if they don’t yield to an emergency vehicle with its lights and/or siren on.
  • Vehicle Code 21709: You can receive this violation if you drive through “safety zones” on the road (striped areas intended for loading or unloading vehicles or pedestrian-only areas).

Sometimes, one or more of these similar vehicle code violations might be added to your existing citation for a Vehicle Code 21950 VC violation. In this case, fines and DMV points will be added for each of these codes. What is added, or what you are innocent or guilty of, will depend on the situation surrounding your ticket and the peace officer’s perspective and description of the incident.

In some cases, the court and/or the peace officer can use any or all similar violations in place of a Vehicle Code 21950 VC violation. It depends, again, on their interpretation of the incident that resulted in your receiving a Vehicle Code 21950 VC citation in the mail.

Is this ticket eligible for traffic school?

Sometimes, drivers with certain traffic citations can agree to attend traffic school to mask the DMV point(s) that would otherwise be added to their public DMV record for several years, as mentioned above. Only specific tickets and certain situations are eligible for this (called moving citations). A moving citation is a ticket issued related to an error you made in your driving technique. You’ll be happy to learn that a Vehicle Code 21950 VC violation is eligible for traffic school if you have not committed the offense in a commercial vehicle or attended traffic school for another offense in the last 16 months. You must also attend an accredited traffic school, such as MM TRAFFIC SCHOOL since the accreditation is needed to make it formula with the DMV.

So, why attend traffic school? It’s just extra time and effort that you don’t have or need, right? There are several reasons why you should seriously consider it seriously. Firstly, it will mask that DMV point. This is a good idea if you already have a few DMV points on your record. If you have too many, it can lead to a suspended license. DMV point accumulation can also increase your insurance premiums, so there is another financial motive to masking it.

Another reason to consider attending is that it can help you re-educate yourself on safe driving as a whole. Since many of us don’t always remember every element of driver’s education, a refresher course is a great way to keep on top of things. This is also tied into the idea that you’ll learn how to correct your driving, resulting in your Vehicle Code 21950 VC violation, so you’ll be a better and safer driver.

Lastly, attending a properly designed traffic school like ours will be fun. This isn’t the classic boring, long, dry education system that you’re thinking of. This modern, exciting, entertaining lesson series will help you enjoy your time in driver’s education classes and make the actual lessons more memorable.

If you’re interested in learning more about our courses or how a Vehicle Code 21950 VC violation can impact your driving, please contact us, and we’ll be happy to elaborate as much as we can. If you have more questions on the actual reason for your Vehicle Code 21950 VC violation, please contact the court that issued you the ticket.

How can I avoid a citation for a Vehicle Code 21950 VC violation?

Thankfully, avoiding a Vehicle Code 21950 VC violation now or in the future is pretty simple. The most important thing to remember is that pedestrians have a right-of-way whenever it comes to a marked crosswalk. They also will have the right-of-way when they are on a street and crossing it, even if it isn’t a marked crosswalk.

Most Vehicle Code 21950 VC citations are due to drivers being in a rush or frustrated and not wanting to slow down for pedestrians to cross safely. In all honesty, dealing with a Vehicle Code 21950 VC violation citation will be much more hassle than simply slowing down to safely allow a pedestrian to finish crossing.

Since a Vehicle Code 21950 VC violation is a serious offense and can also be worse if you receive this citation and the similar ones mentioned above, it isn’t worth the frustration. This can get even worse if you cause injury to the pedestrian since that will carry its own punishment, etc. 

So, with all of that in mind, is the extra time you’ll gain by possibly violating Vehicle Code 21950 VC worth it? This is something to think about next time you are in this situation. Remember: a Vehicle Code 21950 VC violation applies when you, the driver, don’t yield to a pedestrian with the right-of-way. If the pedestrian appears out of nowhere or they do not have the right-of-way, a Vehicle Code 21950 VC violation citation wouldn’t apply.



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