California Vehicle Code 21460 VC is the governing statute that outlines the rules and regulations for crossing double yellow lines. This code applies to solid and broken double lines, and understanding its details is essential for safe and legal driving in California.
Adhering to the rules regarding double lines is crucial to ensure road safety by maintaining proper lane discipline, reducing the risk of accidents caused by unpredictable lane changes, and complying with state regulations to avoid penalties and fines.
This statute does not apply if you turn left at an intersection, turn out of a driveway or private road, or make a U-turn.
VC 21460 says, “(a) If double parallel solid yellow lines are in place, a person driving a vehicle shall not drive to the left of the lines, except as permitted in this section.
(b) If double parallel solid white lines are in place, a person driving a vehicle shall not cross any part of those double solid white lines except as permitted in this section or Section 21655.8.
(c) If the double parallel lines, one of which is broken, are in place, a person driving a vehicle shall not drive to the left of the lines except as follows:
(1) If the driver is on the side of the roadway in which the broken line is in place, the driver may cross over the double lines or drive to the left of the double lines when overtaking or passing other vehicles, turning to the left at an intersection or into or out of a driveway or private road, or making a U-turn under the rules governing that turn, and the markings shall be disregarded when authorized signs have been erected….”
You could face a traffic fine and a point on your driving record if you're cited for violating this ordinance. A related crime is Vehicle Code 21209 VC, driving on a bike lane. Let's review this law further below.
What Does the Law Say?
According to Vehicle Code 21460, double lines can be classified into two categories:
- Solid Double Lines: These lines are continuous and cannot be crossed except under specific circumstances, such as turning into a driveway or avoiding an obstruction.
- Broken Double Lines: These lines consist of a broken line next to a solid line. Crossing these lines is only allowed when the broken line is on the driver's side of the road, for the purpose of passing, and only if the lane left of the solid line is clear of oncoming traffic.
Exceptions to the Rule
VC 21460 does provide certain exceptions, allowing drivers to cross double yellow lines in California when:
- Turning left at an intersection or into a private driveway;
- Making a U-turn (if it is not otherwise prohibited); or
- Passing a slower-moving vehicle, such as a bicycle, when it is safe to do so, and the broken yellow line is on the driver's side.
What Are Some Examples?
EXAMPLE 1: Jake is driving down a two-lane highway with a solid double yellow line in the middle. Irritated at the slow driver in front of him, he veers left across the double yellow line to pass him. Jake can be cited for violating VC 21460.
EXAMPLE 2: Sarah is driving down a two-lane highway with broken double yellow lines. She waits until the broken line is on her side of the road and crosses the double yellow line when the lane to her left is clear of oncoming traffic to pass a slow-moving vehicle. This would be permissible under VC 21460, and she would not be ticketed.
EXAMPLE 3: Robert is driving down a two-lane highway with a solid double yellow line in the middle. He needs to turn left into his driveway on the other side of the road across from where he is currently driving. Under VC 21460, Robert could cross the double yellow lines while making his left turn.
What Are the Penalties for VC 21460?
Violating VC 21460 is an infraction. Violating the rules surrounding crossing double yellow lines in California can result in the following consequences:
- A base fine of $234.
- One point added to your DMV record; this can lead to increased insurance premiums.
- If you've recently accumulated too many points within a specified time frame, you could be classified by the DMV as a "negligent operator" and face suspension of your license.
In addition, if you ignore the ticket, fail to pay it, or contest it in court, you could face additional fines, a license suspension, and even criminal charges for failing to appear.
What Are the Defenses for VC 21460?
You can contest your VC 21460 VC violation in court if you disagree. However, hiring a California criminal defense attorney is recommended for the best results. Common defenses are discussed below.
Perhaps we can argue that there was a necessity. Sometimes, crossing double yellow lines in California might be necessary to avoid an immediate danger or hazard, such as a stopped vehicle, debris, or an animal on the road. In these cases, a lawyer can argue that you must cross the lines to protect yourself and others.
Perhaps we can argue there was a mistake of Fact. If you genuinely believed it was legal to cross the double yellow lines in your specific situation, a lawyer might be able to argue "mistake of fact" as a defense.
Perhaps we can argue that there was a lack of clear signage. For example, if the double yellow lines were faded, obscured, or otherwise not clearly visible, you might claim that you were unaware of the traffic restrictions.
Perhaps we can argue that there is insufficient Evidence. For example, your lawyer might challenge the accuracy of the officer's observations or dispute the legitimacy of any photos or videos presented as evidence.
You can contact our law firm to review the case details and legal options by phone or through the contact form. Eisner Gorin LLP is located in Los Angeles, California.