California explicitly legalized the practice of lane splitting by motorcycles in 2017. Before that, it was still unofficially legal for motorcycles to pass vehicles in the same lanes. While many drivers feel uncomfortable sharing the lane with motorcyclists, the driving practice has actually been known to make the roads safer. That being said, there are limits to what both cyclists and passenger vehicles can do when it comes to lane splitting and violating these laws could result in a ticket or even a misdemeanor or felony charge requiring the assistance of a top San Marcos criminal lawyer.
Rules for Cyclists
Surprisingly, there are very few rules for cyclists to follow when they decide to split lanes. While the California Highway Patrol recommends those riding on motorcycles do not go more than 10 miles an hour faster than the speed of the other vehicles on the road, this is more of a suggestion than a rule. That being said, cyclists can still get ticketed for going above the speed limit or if their speed or other driving behavior presents a danger to either themselves or other drivers, they could be charged with reckless driving.
The CHP also suggests that cyclists stay in the far left lanes while lane splitting and avoid doing so next to large vehicles such as buses or tractor trailers, but again, these are not laws but merely safety advice. Riding on the shoulder is illegal and may result in a ticket or a charge of reckless driving depending on the level of danger presented. If you have been charged with a misdemeanor related to your motorcycle riding, a skilled Fallbrook reckless driving lawyer may be able to have the charges reduced to an infraction.
While other drivers might not like to hear motorcycles revving their engines, this is not only a legal activity, it can actually help save lives by making others on the road aware of the cyclist.
Rules for Drivers of Passenger Vehicles
While cyclists mostly should follow the CHP’s suggestions, drivers of passenger vehicles are subject to a number of laws when driving near riders who are lane splitting. Overall, while drivers are not legally required to move over to make room for a cyclist to pass safely, it is illegal to go the other way and intentionally impede or block a rider from passing a vehicle -this includes opening your door to block the cyclist. You can be ticketed for these offenses, but if you actually cause injury to the rider, this could be considered reckless driving with injury and could result in misdemeanor charges. If he dies, you could even face vehicular manslaughter charges.
If you accidentally or purposefully hit a cyclist while driving and then leave the scene without exchanging information, you can be charged with fleeing the scene of an accident. Accidental hitting of a cyclist while driving negligently isn’t necessarily a crime unless the cyclist dies.If the the driving was reckless then it can be a felony if the person was injured. Intentionally hitting a cyclist would be assault with a deadly weapon, which can result in the loss of driving privileges for life and a strike. Fleeing the scene of an accident is always a crime. If no one was hurt then it is a misdemeanor, but if anyone was injured, then fleeing is a felony. If you are involved in an accident with a cyclist and believe there is any chance you may be accused of reckless driving or any other crime, be sure to contact a top Rancho Bernardo driving crime defense attorney.
Whether you are a cyclist who has been accused of reckless driving or a commercial truck driver accused of vehicular manslaughter, it is critical you work with an Escondido traffic crimes attorney to fight the charges. Please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Creative Commons Image by Chris Yarzab