Crossing a pair of double yellow lines. What does that mean exactly?
August 6, 2006 5:51 PM   Subscribe

TrafficTicketFilter: I was cited for CVC 21651(A)(1) in Aliso Viejo, CA. Please help me determine if I can beat this ticket.

This is what I was cited for: CVC 21651(A)(1)

Divided Highways

21651. (a) Whenever a highway has been divided into two or more roadways by means of intermittent barriers or by means of a dividing section of not less than two feet in width, either unpaved or delineated by curbs, double-parallel lines, or other markings on the roadway, it is unlawful to do either of the following:

(1) To drive any vehicle over, upon, or across the dividing section.

Please have a look at details of what happened, here:!107

It is best to look at it in "Bird's eye" mode and clicking on the icon with the bigger buildings (I assume this is "greater detail" mode).

I understand you are NOT supposed to cross a PAIR of double yellow lines. But what about the area that can be seen in pushpin #1. I claim that I drove safely into this area and then proceeded to merge with the traffic in the west-bound lane on Pacific Park. I seriously double the cop could tell exactly what my path was from his distance [the cop was situated at pushpin #2].

Next, he decided to pull me over, so I pulled over around where pushpin #3 is. He joking said I violated CVC 21651(A)(1) again when I pulled over into the parking lot. The citation was for the initial left turn.

If this cop's interpretation of CVC 21651(A)(1) is correct, then shouldn't the cars making a left turn into the supermarket parking lot also deserve tickets [pushpin #4]? There are clearly a line of cars waiting to make left turns similar to what I did.

Thanks for any feedback!
posted by zzztimbo to Law & Government (17 answers total)
In the birds-eye view, there is a silver car the fast lane heading east and directly across from it there is a red SUV heading west in the slow lane. Is this where you crossed?

If so, it looks like that pair of double yellow lines is 2ft or more apart, in which case you did break the law. However, if you did enter the road from here, there is a stop sign, and if you didn't have a right turn only sign it could be argued that the yellow lines where barely or not visible from your position at the stop sign, and without instruction otherwise, you assumed it was legal to turn left or right when safe.

I'd say you might have a chance in court.
posted by darkness at 6:19 PM on August 6, 2006

Two things.

One. Ho-o-oly crap that Windows Live Local thing is awesome! Rotating the view really, really helps put your situation into finer clarity. Wow. I'm sitting here jaw-agape looking at it.

Two. Perhaps more helpful: if you go into traffic court with three-foot foamboard blow-ups of those screen captures, I think that would make a good impression. Usually most people don't put any effort into their defense and it turns into a you-said, cop-said thing, when the cop always wins.

Also, you might want to adjust your argument a bit: the lemmings argument ("If they're doing it, why can't I") doesn't go over well with judges.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:23 PM on August 6, 2006

Man, what a horrible user interface. I couldn't find flag #3 and gave up.
posted by intermod at 7:47 PM on August 6, 2006

zzztimbo - It's pretty clear that you violated the the vehicle code the cop cited.
I assume when you say this: "But what about the area that can be seen in pushpin #1." that you mean the wider area right before the turn lane, right?
If so, that's a divider and you aren't allowed to cross it, whether you pause in it or not is immaterial.
I don't think it matters if the cop saw your exact path, since there is clearly no legal way to turn left on that road.
So, if he saw you pulling out of the divider, he saw you do the violation.

As for the cars in the supermarket, yeah, they're probably in violation as well(unless there is an exception for turning into a parking lot?) but that's not going to help your case at all.
As your mom probably yelled at you more than once, "Just 'cause everyone else does, doesn't mean it's right!"

Good luck with the case.

intermod - Click and drag to scroll, it took me a bit too figure it out as well.
posted by madajb at 8:01 PM on August 6, 2006

Response by poster: ok. i hope this diagram clears things up.

please let me know if i am in the wrong or not.
posted by zzztimbo at 8:11 PM on August 6, 2006

Regardless of whether you're actually in the wrong or not, is the very, very best method of dealing with traffic tickets in California. Bet you didn't know you could fully contest the ticket and have a full trial entirely by mail, did you? ;-)
posted by frogan at 8:18 PM on August 6, 2006

If I understand the situation correctly from the screenshots, you crossed over a raised divider in the middle of the road? You started at #1, headed north, crossed over the divider, no doubt getting a good bump doing so, and then turned left?

If so... dude, you are SO guilty, and you're not going to get out of it. Even if it's not actually raised, that KIND of divider is absolutely not to be crossed EVER. When they don't spend the money to actually raise it, you still pretend like it's a curb. They're used in areas where the traffic is moving at fairly high volume or at high speed... and by crossing in the middle of the block like that, you're liable to cause an accident, because nobody expects you to be there.

It looks like, if you want to head west from that housing development, you need to take the southwest exit, go north to the #2 intersection where the cop was, and THEN turn left.

If my read of the situation is correct, I think you will not escape the ticket. The cop was correct to cite you for unsafe driving. And whether or not you actually pay a fine, stop doing that! You're gonna get someone hurt.
posted by Malor at 8:22 PM on August 6, 2006

please let me know if i am in the wrong or not.

From that picture, it looks like you could have crossed at the wide part, but you could just as easily crossed the not-as-wide part.

Frankly, I'm more alarmed that you tried to cross four lanes of traffic, not including the other direction of traffic flow, to pull a left rather than just take an easy right, drive up a block and make a U-turn. I guess if the road was completely clear, maybe I can understand it, but then, if the road was completely clear, the cop at the end of the block would have had a pretty good view of you. Kind-of a Catch-22.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:23 PM on August 6, 2006

So you made a left from the entrance/exit to/from that cul-de-sac development (man, California is wierd lookin' to a New England boy) onto the main road?

If that scenario existed here in Massachusetts, there would definitely be a "No Left Turn" sign at the end of the cul-de-sac road, and that would be the end of the story (I am assuming there is not one at the intersection in question, though it looks like there might be one). If I understand the rules of your crazy Cali roads, if the pair of double yellows are more than 2' apart, you can't enter that area, yes? Well, I'd guess that all the lines in that area are more than 2' apart, especially in the parallellogrammish area you mention, and so that is why you got (correctly, the way I see it) busted.

I also bet that he could see at least down to the street you were coming off of, and probably watched you the whole time.

The presence of people doing it at the supermarket is not germane to the discussion, as others have mentioned.

I may not be understanding the situation properly, but to me it looks like a fair cop, I'm afraid. That said, it can't hurt to fight it, and if you show up with aerial photography in hand, you may just impress the judge to let you slide in any case. Good luck!
posted by Rock Steady at 8:26 PM on August 6, 2006

Yeah, after looking at your diagram, you are DEFINITELY in the wrong. You can't just cut across four lanes of cross traffic at a forty-five degree angle like that, double yellows or no. If anything, you might want to suggest that the police put up a "No Left Turn" sign at the intersection to prevent future issues. Sorry, dude.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:30 PM on August 6, 2006

Yeah, after looking at your diagram, you are DEFINITELY in the wrong.

Ditto. Don't show this diagram to the judge. ;-)
posted by frogan at 8:52 PM on August 6, 2006

The law you cite talks about crossing a divider that is more than two feet wide (not crossing a double-yellow line). That is what you did. You should have come straight out and crossed the double-yellow where the lines are right next to each other.
posted by winston at 8:56 PM on August 6, 2006

winston - It's hard to tell in that picture, but the lines in the center of the road are almost certainly _two_ sets of double-yellow lines, which you cannot cross in CA.
So, it wouldn't have mattered if he went straight across or angled for the wide bit.
posted by madajb at 9:57 PM on August 6, 2006

I'm just saying that crossing a double-yellow line is not what he has been charged with.
posted by winston at 10:34 PM on August 6, 2006

You make a turn from a side street onto the far side of a six-lane divided road, and you're *wondering* if you did the wrong thing?

What *do* they teach them in these schools?
posted by flabdablet at 4:38 AM on August 7, 2006

as far as I can tell, that isn't a suicide lane, meaning you aren't to use it for merging.
posted by fishfucker at 12:28 PM on August 7, 2006

Well, someone made a good point here: he certainly did something dumb... but did he do the dumb thing *that the cop charged him with*.

See my previous comments about expecting The Man to follow his own rules...
posted by baylink at 12:47 PM on August 7, 2006

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