The following is provided for information only. Driving or riding can be a dangerous activity, what you do on your own time with your own vehicle is up to you. Always drive / ride safe and never do anything that would endanger pedestrians or other motorists. The roads belong to everyone; make sure that you, and everyone you pass, makes it home safely. By using this site you agree to release lateralg.org from any liability resulting from your actions.
As a result of my velocity on a recent trip accross Palms to Pines Hwy., I had a little chat with an officer of the California Highway Patrol. As a result of that, I was given the opportunity to attend a driving school. Determined not to have the day completely wasted, I took notes on the issues that surprised me or I thought would be relevant to this page.
Note: I have not confirmed all of these with the California vehicle code, and not everything my instructor told us turned out to be true. You should verify these own your own if you are worried about the consequenses.
More than 25mph over the speed limit is considered reckless driving.
Get caught driving over 100mph and you can lose your license, have your car impounded, and spend up to three (3) days in jail.
Speeding ticket fines are based on pre-set prices of the governing agency(s) you were caught in, not the speed you were going. For example, the ticket I got for 20mph+ over the limit in Riverside County was considerably cheaper than would be a ticket in Malibu for 5mph over the limit.
Parking lots are subject to traffic laws and can be patrolled by the police. Just because you are on private property, don't think the cops won't do anything about those donuts you are making.
Not a law, but between 12am and 3am 1 in 3 drivers are driving under the influence. This means if you get pulled over during this time you are automatically suspected of being drunk. Unfortunately, some cops will pull over vehicles going exactly the speed limit at this time of night because they figure that anybody who is drunk will make damn sure they are not speeding.
Also not a law, but if you get a ticket from the CHP or a traffic enforcement vehicle, don't plan on having the ticket thrown out in court because they don't show up. Their job is to hand out traffic violations, they will be at your court hearing.
Any amount of marijauna found in a vehicle by a police search may result in the driver losing their license for one year.
Lateral G does not condone street racing. I like to drive fast but not race other people on the streets. I don't participate in competitive driving. Racing each other on the freeway, or even worse on surface streets, is just plain stupid and often ends in a crash. If you are caught street racing, this is what can happen to you (first occurrence) according to the CHP. NOTE: these are from early 2005, fines and penalties may currently be worse than those listed below.- Minimum county jail sentence of 24 hours and maximum of 90 days.
- Vehicle probably impounded for at least 30 days.
- Owner responsible for vehicle's towing and storage charges ($1,000 or more).
- If owner fails to pay, vehicle could be sold at a lien sale.
- Anyone who aids or abets a street race also faces a maximum 90-day jail sentence.
The following modifications and upgrades are illegal under the California Vehicle Code.- Stereo that can be heard more than 50' from the vehicle.
- Lack of front and rear DMV issued plates.
- Radar and laser jammers.
- Any part of the car lower than the lowest point of the wheel rim.
- Tinting front or front side windows.
- Blue and yellow headlights.
- Brighter or higher wattage than OEM headlights.
- Tail lights other than red.
- Lack of rear reflectors.
- Front turn signals must be white or yellow, rear turn signals must be red or yellow.
- Red lights to front of vehicle.
- Driving with only parking lights on.
- All flashing decorative lights.
- Windshield washer nozzles, if equipped with lights, may only be white or yellow.
- Lights attached to wheel stems.
- Lighted license plate frames (other than red on the rear plate)
- Engine modifications that do not meet smog
- Excessively noisy smog. Exhaust systems that claim "50 State Legal" referst to smog, not noise. Under 27150.2 VC an officer may issue a noise citation based on his judgement, a mechanical test is not required.
** BLACK BOXES **
They're not just for airplanes anymore. That's right, your car may very well have a "black box" that is recording what you are doing behind the wheel. Cars have been built with sensors that record vehicle motion for some time. These sensors allow the car to know when to deploy it's airbag. But car manufacturers, notably GM, have recently begun to build cars with devices that record for several second or minutes. In the event of an accident these can save information regarding your speed, engine RPM, if your hitting the gas or brakes, etc.
I have not found a lot of information on this so far. A Florida driver was recently sentenced to 30 years in jail for killing two teenage kids in another car. He was doing 114mph on a residential street, and his cars data recorder was used against him in court. While the car is technically yours, the laws do not protect the data it collects as belonging to your. After an accident, insurance companies and accident investigators can get this data from your car (if equipped) without your even knowing about it. And with over 25 million cars using these devices today, if you have a new car you probably have a date recorder too.
Recently I read an article about an accident involving a political figure in a town somewhere in the mid-west. The driver survived but was injured and in the hospital. His "black box" recorded that he was doing 75 in a 55mph zone, but a law enforcement officer happened to see the accident and claimed the vehicle was not going more than 55mph. An accident re-creation team reached the same results, so obviously these devices are not perfect.
I do not have a complete list of vehicles that have these devices. I know that newer model Corvettes do. I have also read that the BMW M3 records your engine information, in Europe they will void your warranty if you use the "launch" mode with the SMG transmission. Many new cars have the ability to plug a computer in and find out what the problems have been. It doesn't take much imagination to realize that it would be very easy for these cars to record crash data.
If you have a GM, Ford, or Isuzu, you might want to check this page to find where your car's "black box" is.