California law requires drivers to come to a complete stop at all stop signs and railroad crossings defined under California Vehicle Code 22450 VC.
For purposes of the law, these are referred to as "special stops." This regulation is essential for maintaining road safety and preventing accidents, ensuring that all drivers adhere to the same set of rules.
Simply put, under this law, rolling stops are not permitted, and you must come to a complete stop. When approaching a railroad grade, drivers must stop at the limit line before crossing the track. If there is no limit line, drivers must come to a complete stop at the entrance of the railroad grade crossing before proceeding.
Further, VC 22450 allows authorities to place stop signs at any location along a highway as long as it's within their jurisdiction and enhances traffic safety.
Vehicle Code 22450 VC says, “(a) The driver of any vehicle approaching a stop sign at the entrance to, or within, an intersection shall stop at a limit line, if marked, otherwise before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection.
If there is no limit line or crosswalk, the driver shall stop at the entrance to the intersecting roadway.
(b) The driver of a vehicle approaching a stop sign at a railroad grade crossing shall stop at a limit line, if marked otherwise, before crossing the first track or entrance to the railroad grade crossing.
(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a local authority may adopt rules and regulations by ordinance or resolution providing for the placement of a stop sign at any location on a highway under its jurisdiction where the stop sign would enhance traffic safety.”
If you are ticketed for violating this rule, you will likely face a fine and a point on your driving record. Let's review this state law further below.
Requirements for Stopping at Stop Signs
Under VC 22450, drivers must stop at the limit line or before entering the crosswalk if none is marked. If there is no crosswalk or limit line, drivers must stop at the point nearest the intersecting roadway, providing a clear view of approaching traffic.
The same rule applies to railroad grade crossings: drivers must stop at the limit line, or if no limit line exists, before crossing the first track. In addition, you must come to a complete stop when stopping at stop signs, which means a vehicle is at zero speed and not moving forward.
What Are the Proper Stopping Techniques?
To comply with Vehicle Code 22450, drivers should do the following:
- Slow down as they approach the stop sign.
- Come to a complete stop before the limit line or crosswalk. A complete stop means no "rolling stops" or simply slowing to a crawl. A complete stop means your speed drops to zero mph. The tires must cease moving.
- Look for oncoming traffic, pedestrians, cyclists, or oncoming trains.
- Yield the right-of-way to any vehicles or pedestrians that have arrived before them.
- Proceed with caution when it is safe to do so.
What Are Some Examples?
EXAMPLE 1: Seth is late for work. Not thinking, he comes to a "rolling stop" at a stop sign as he leaves his neighborhood. Seth can be ticketed under VC 22450.
EXAMPLE 2: Andrea is ticketed for failing to stop at an intersection, but the stop sign was covered by tree overgrowth, and she didn't see it. Andrea can contest the ticket due to the obstructed view.
EXAMPLE 3: Emily is cited for failing to come to a complete stop at an intersection. She can provide evidence that she did stop completely in the form of dashboard camera footage. As a result, Emily may be able to get the citation dismissed.
What Are the Penalties for VC 22450?
Violating the stop sign law in California is an infraction resulting in a citation. The penalties are as follows:
- The standard fine for failing to stop at a stop sign or railroad crossing is $238.
- Points on your driving record. A violation of Vehicle Code 22450 resulted in one point added to the offender's driving record. Accumulating too many points can lead to license suspension.
In addition to the penalties above, you may face increased insurance premiums, particularly if you have accumulated additional points in recent memory. This is because the more points you have on your driving record, the higher your risk is perceived by insurance carriers.
Is It a Crime to Violate VC 22450?
No. Failing to stop at a special stop (stop sign or railroad crossing) is an infraction, and infractions are not considered crimes.
However, willfully ignoring the ticket is, in fact, a crime. If you ignore the ticket and choose not to appear in traffic court on your appointed day/time, you violate Vehicle Code 40508 VC, a misdemeanor offense. If convicted of violating VC 40508, you could face fines of up to $1000 and up to 6 months in jail.
Failure to appear is prosecuted under Vehicle Code 40508 VC if you willingly don't attend court. It does not t matter if you didn't intend to break the law.
Further, it does not matter whether you're innocent or guilty of the underlying traffic citation. You violate Vehicle Code 40508 VC by breaking a promise to appear in court, pay bail, pay a fine, or comply with any condition of the court.
What Are the Defenses for VC 22450?
If you disagree with the citation you've received under VC 22450, you may contest the ticket in court. Several defenses may apply to combating a VC 22450 citation, as discussed below.
Perhaps we can argue that you had an obstructed view. Local authorities are obligated to ensure that signage is clearly visible to drivers. If the stop sign or limit line was obstructed due to factors beyond your, such as overgrown vegetation or damaged signage, this might be a valid defense to have the ticket dismissed.
Perhaps we can argue that there was a lack of proper signage. If the stop sign was not installed according to California's guidelines, including correct height, visibility, and placement, it might be possible to contest the citation.
Perhaps we can argue that you came to a complete stop. If the officer cited you for failing to come to a full stop, but you can provide evidence that you did (such as witness testimony or a dashboard camera), this may be a valid defense in court.
Perhaps we can argue that there were Emergency circumstances. If you can show that you failed to stop due to a valid emergency or to avoid a collision, you may be able to get the citation dismissed. You can contact us for a case review by phone or through the contact form. Eisner Gorin LLP is based in Los Angeles, CA.