California Driving and Traffic Laws


Rules of the road vary from state to state. If you are a resident of California you may already be aware of the driving and traffic laws in your state. But if you are new to the area or are thinking of visiting in the near future, here are some things to remember as you take to the California highways.

There is a Basic Speed Law in place in California. What this means is that no matter what the speed limit is, you must not drive faster than it is safe to under the current conditions. So, even if the speed limit is 55 mph and you are driving at 45 mph because there is a dense fog, you could still get a ticked for going too fast for these conditions.

In general, the maximum speed limit is 65 mph on most of the highways in California. For two –lane undivided highways, and for any vehicle that is towing a trailer, the speed limit is 55 mph. You can also be sited for going too slow and preventing the flow of traffic.

School areas – any area within 500 feet of children attending school – as well as the crossing areas have speed limits of 25 mph.

You must yield to emergency vehicles, including fire engines, police cars or ambulances that are using their siren and flashing lights. It is against the law in California to follow within 300 feet of any emergency vehicle that is on its way to a call.

Effective as of July 1, 2008, it is against the law to use your cellular phone while driving unless you use a hands-free device – Bluetooth, headphones, etc.

If you are arrested for your first DUI – driving under the influence of drugs and or alcohol –the fine will be between $390 to $1,000. Your license will be suspended for six months but you could qualify for a temporary restricted license. Jail time is no less than 96 hours but no more than six months.

A second offense will get you no less than 90 days and no more than one year in jail. The fines are the same as with a first offense but your driver’s license will be suspended for one year. The state of California has recently passed a bill that requires the addition of an ignition interlock device on the vehicles of anyone who has been convicted of violating their DUI provisions and got back behind the wheel again.

And new in 2009, it is an infraction to read or send text messages while driving in California. It is hard enough for people to speak on their cell phones and drive at the same time so trying to answer or read a text message was even more dangerous to attend to while driving.

More and more cell phone use is responsible for reckless driving. Just taking your eyes off the road for a few seconds can turn into a deadly scene. Be careful and learn the rules of the road no matter where your travels may take you.