What Is Tailgating? 

Tailgating, or following the vehicle in front of you too closely, is the primary reason for rear-end collisions. Under California Vehicle Code 21703, the driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon, and the condition of, the roadway. In other words, if a driver is tailing a vehicle more closely than what is considered reasonable and prudent, he is subject to penalties under California law. The distance you need to keep between yourself and the car in front of you may depend on several factors, including: 

  • Speed of the vehicles 
  • Distance between other vehicles 
  • Direction of the vehicles 
  • Braking efficiency of the vehicles 
  • Road surface conditions 
  • Weather conditions 
  • Alertness of the drivers 

As a general rule of thumb, the faster you are traveling, the more distance you should keep between yourself and the vehicle in front of you. 

Penalties for Tailgating 

Unfortunately, if you are running late or being impatient, you may not realize you are following too closely to another vehicle until it’s too late. If you are stopped by a police officer, you may receive a tailgating ticket for following too closely. This violation is considered an infraction under California law and carries the following penalties: 

  • $238 in fines 
  • 1 point added to your DMV driving record 

Although these penalties are not as severe as they would be if you were charged with a misdemeanor or felony, they can still have negative impacts on your life. Firstly, points added to your driving record must be reported to your insurance carrier. This will usually result in an increase in your insurance rates for several years. Additionally, if you accumulate more than a certain number of points within a certain time period, the DMV may suspend or revoke your driving privileges. This can be an issue if you rely on your car in order to get to work or school. 

Defenses for Tailgating 

If you received a ticket for tailgating, you may be able to fight it if you can raise one of the following defenses: 

  • You actually were driving at a reasonable and prudent distance given the circumstances of your case 
  • The car in front of you was driving unlawfully 
  • The officer did not clearly see the distance between the vehicles 

For all of these defenses, you must have photographs or videos to support your claims. Furthermore, it may be in your best interest to consult with an attorney before raising these defenses on your own. This is because an experienced defense attorney will know the best defenses to use in order to reduce your charges and can often negotiate a better deal with prosecutors. Moreover, having a lawyer will save you a trip to court, as your lawyer will appear on your behalf.

Of course, the best way to avoid the hassle of a ticket is to resist tailgating in the first place. Some tips to avoid tailgating include: 

  • Give yourself enough time to make it to your destination without driving impatiently or too close to other cars 
  • Drive with the flow of traffic, not too fast or too slow 
  • Focus on the road and avoid distractions 
  • Drive in the correct lane for your speed (slow traffic on the right, faster traffic on the left) 

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today 

If you received a ticket for tailgating, contact Wallin & Klarich as soon as possible to see how we can help. With 40+ years of experience, Wallin & Klarich is your best choice amongst Southern California criminal defense firms. Our attorneys have helped thousands of clients defend against traffic tickets, and we have the skills and resources to help you avoid fines and maintain your driving privileges. 

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.