California Vehicle Code Section 21461a

What does failure to obey a traffic sign or signal encompass? This charge is often used by law enforcement as a catch-all when the officer cannot remember or does not know of a specific charge for which to cite you. The text of California Vehicle Code Section 21461a states: It is unlawful for a driver of a vehicle to fail to obey a sign or signal of a regulatory nature erected to enhance traffic safety and operations or to carry out the provisions of this code or a local traffic ordinance, or to fail to obey a device erected by the lawful authority of a public body or official. In short, motorists must obey both permanent traffic signs and signals, as well as temporary one’s erected in work zones. Some common traffic violations include running a stop sign, failing to yield, speeding, or making an unsafe lane change. 

Penalties for Failure to Obey a Traffic Sign or Signal 

In general, traffic violations are considered infractions, meaning they have relatively low consequences. Failure to obey a traffic sign carries no jail time and fines of up to a few hundred dollars. However, traffic violations can add 1-2 points to a motorist’s driver’s license. This is important because if you exceed a certain number of points, you may end up losing your driving privileges. Additionally, having more points on your driving record will increase your insurance premiums for the next 3 to 5 years.  In California, your driver’s license can be suspended or revoked if you have: 

  • 4 points in 12 months 
  • 6 points in 24 months 
  • 8 points in 36 months 

Furthermore, although most traffic violations are only infractions, you can face more serious consequences if you ignore the traffic ticket. Failure to appear in court for a traffic ticket is charged as a misdemeanor punishable by: 

  • Up to $1,000 in fines 
  • Up to 6 months in county jail 

Learn Your Options 

In response to your traffic ticket, you may plead guilty, no contest, or not guilty. If you plead guilty or no contest, you can simply pay the fine and accept the point(s) on your driving record. You may have the option to take a California traffic school class instead, but you will need court approval to do so. 

However, before you plead guilty, you should consider the impact that additional points on your license may have. It may be worth having a professional handle your traffic ticket so that you can possibly get the case dismissed. If you plead not guilty, you can hire an attorney to plead your case in court in front of a judge. Even if you plead not guilty, you must pay your fines up front, but your money will be returned if you are found to be innocent. 

In some cases, the officer who cited you for failure to obey a traffic signal did so because he could not remember or did not know the specific code for which to cite you. If your attorney can prove that the officer only entered a code so that your case wouldn’t be dismissed, then you may be able to plead not guilty. Your attorney can also contest your charges by showing that the traffic sign or signal was obstructed by weather conditions, trees or shrubbery, or another vehicle. 

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today 

If you are charged with failure to obey a traffic sign or signal, you may potentially face losing your driving privileges. Depending on your circumstances, this may greatly affect your lifestyle or even your employment. At best, a traffic ticket is an inconvenience. Wallin & Klarich can spare you the hassle of fighting a traffic ticket on your own. With 40+ years of experience, Wallin & Klarich is your best choice amongst Southern California criminal defense firms. Our attorneys have helped thousands of clients with their traffic tickets, and we have the skills and resources to help you too. We can help you achieve the best possible results so that you never need to worry. 

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you. 

Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.