Motorcycle Forums banner
1 - 20 of 66 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
720 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Help From a Guy With a Law Degree (but not an attorney)

First, let's remember that this is a story that doubtlessly has two sides. Here's what el chip-o will say:

"On routine patrol in my marked cruiser, I observed the subject vehicle passing between slowly moving and stopped lines of traffic at a speed much greater than the stopped vehicles. I was able to keep the subect vehicle in view and performed a routine stop. The suspect showed me his valid california driver's license and told me he thought it was OK to ride in the described fashion."

You see, there's nothing in the California Vehicle Code expressly prohibiting lane-splitting. You can share lanes on a motorcycle, but you have to do it "safely". So cops get to be judge, jury and executioner, deciding by the side of the road if you're safe or not. They have a lot of latitude. But they have to think of something to charge you with, as well.

We don't really have enough info to help you. First, we need to know what you were charged with! Was it "unsafe lane change"? Or reckless driving? Reckless is serious, but you do have the right to a jury trial. If you were written for a misdemeanor, you need an attorney to truly protect you rights.

For an infraction you should probably just take the traffic school. You'll have to prove a subjective thing (you did nothing unsafe) against the word of the fuzz.

If you do want to fight it, go right now to www.nolo.com and order the California edition of "Fight Your Ticket". It will reveal all kinds of procedural and technical ways to win in court.

Good luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Think for yourself. Don't get caught. But in the spirit of the holiday season ;have your lawyer make the case that due to the fluctuations in traffic speed YOU made the decision that it was safest to split lanes because you were nearly rear-ended several times. If you were paying attention during the MSF course you'll know you can quote directly from the book. But don't blame it on hearsay. Haven't you ever seen Law & Order?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
o.k., a point here. People don't realize this, but it is fact. Police are considered "judge, jury, and executioner" in a traffic stop because the standard of proof is different. Guilty beyond a reasonable doubt does NOT exist in traffic court. Preponderence of the evidence is the standard. As such, like I tell people who want to fight me in court, go ahead. I need a laugh. Police are regarded as professional witnesses, and are trained to look at minute things that everyone else will not see, then use that as evidence. Pay the ticket unless you can absolutely prove that you were travelling in a safe manner. (is the offense on tape? remember, this can hurt you OR help you, depending on testimony you and the officer offer)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
238 Posts
I recently lived in Northern California for a year (Pleasanton, 22 miles up from San Jose on Hwy 680). Having move from Minnesota I was totally shocked to see people lane splitting. Over the time I spent in NorCal I road with many people, including a lot of CHP. I asked many CHP if lane splitting was "legal" and I was told "NO". Lane splitting is "Tolerated". The law that somewhat "allows" lane splitting is very vague, it says "A motorcycle may share a lane with a motor vehicle" (Page 15 of the hand book I believe). That's ALL it says. A friend of mine last year was lane splitting on 680 (on the start of the incline by Fry's Electronics for those of you who live in the area) when a person open a car door on him. Needless to say he was very messed up. Get this, he was sued and had to pay damages because of a seldom imposed law passed by the wonderful law makers in Sacramento that makes lane splitting illegal. Did I lane split? Yes. Did I know it was illegal? Yes. Did I care? No as long as I didn't get caught. After a year of California I moved back to Minnesota. My suggestion is to check with the courts and go to the CHP station and ask.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
238 Posts
I recently lived in Northern California for a year (Pleasanton, 22 miles up from San Jose on Hwy 680). Having move from Minnesota I was totally shocked to see people lane splitting. Over the time I spent in NorCal I road with many people, including a lot of CHP. I asked many CHP if lane splitting was "legal" and I was told "NO". Lane splitting is "Tolerated". The law that somewhat "allows" lane splitting is very vague, it says "A motorcycle may share a lane with a motor vehicle" (Page 15 of the hand book I believe). That's ALL it says. A friend of mine last year was lane splitting on 680 (on the start of the incline by Fry's Electronics for those of you who live in the area) when a person open a car door on him. Needless to say he was very messed up. Get this, he was sued and had to pay damages because of a seldom imposed law passed by the wonderful law makers in Sacramento that makes lane splitting illegal. Did I lane split? Yes. Did I know it was illegal? Yes. Did I care? No as long as I didn't get caught. After a year of California I moved back to Minnesota. My suggestion is to check with the courts and go to the CHP station and ask.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
142 Posts
In Japan, lane splitting is tolerated and expected. I do it a lot to get by stalled traffic, but not at the speeds you do. I don't want to be splitting lanes when traffic is getting up to 40MPH!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,875 Posts
Yeah, I got a ticket for it, too!

But here in VA. I can understand moving between cars if they're all stopped, or moving very slowly. That was tolerated all over Europe when I lived there. But, I read your psting, and I see that the speeds were in the 30-40 MPH range. Sounds kind of high to me.

I hear California rders talk about lane splitting/sharing like it's some kind of right. sounds like it's an excuse to ride like an a**hole. Then again, I don't have to put up with your traffic.

I dunno, can you plead guilty, go to school, and keep it off your record? That's probably the pragmatic approach, depending on your record.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
As a rider in the UK, I can't imagine *not* lane-splitting; I commute over 100 miles a day, & for me, it's the raison-d'etre for using the bike. I typcally save 40-50 minutes one way on the world's largest orbital car park (the M25 around London). Obviously, you have to take care, and the police in the UK can pull you if they decide your filtering speed is too high - but as per usual, it's entirely up to them, as the law is a bit vague over here as well. I've never been pulled in 6 years doing it, tho'....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
230 Posts
...are trained to look at minute things that everyone else will not see...

(My emphasis added)

Is it standard for law enforcement officials to assume that every member of the public is completely ignorant?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
227 Posts
Yep, me too.

I received a lane-splitting ticket on the Ventura freeway out by Woodland Hills one morning in circumstances similar to yours.

Except, well, I've faced up to the fact that I was going faster than you say you were and deserved to get stopped. Not my finest hour.

So my advice is to go to traffic school and be done with it.

I've since moved to Washington State where lane-splitting is not legal nor is there the opportunity to make a ticket vanish by going to traffic school.

Although it's not to the point here, may I say that Southern and Central California get my vote for the best place in the country to ride motorcycles. Great weather, great roads, filter through traffic when the four wheelers are idling futilely, make one speeding ticket per year vanish through the magic of traffic school. I miss it sometimes.....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
128 Posts
Yep, I checked the DMV web site and it says "Lane sharing is not illegal." THat's a pretty wishy-washy statement, really. It actually goes on to say it is discouraged and it gives suggestions to avoid lane sharing, for example by moving to the center of your lane so that a car cannot use the lane at the same time. I split lanes all the time when I commute, and it's not really dangerous if done right. I think the point is that your differential speed (how much faster you go than the traffic) cannot be too high, otherwise the first time someone changes lanes ahead of you without warning you really are dead meat. I usually stop splitting when traffic goes up to 35/40 mph. I sort of assume that in any accident I will not be able to claim any rights... Cops are strange, though. Last May I got stopped on Sunset Blvd in Pacific Palisades (that's in LA for non-Californians out there), doing about 55 in a 35, in an area with big sweeping curves, as I was passing another bike. Pulled over by a motorcycle cop: I thought I was dead meat. He looks at my license, compliments me on the fact that I have a motorcycle endorsement, and lets me go, after admitting to me that my speed was not really dangerous and I seemed in good control of the bike. Go figure!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
87 Posts
Re: Yep, me too.

I agree with the comments about traffic school - I live in Colorado now, and I really miss being able to get rid of a ticket by attending one, although as I recall you could only attend once every 2 years (although several years ago I attended 2 a couple of weeks apart, as the tickets were in different counties - I transferred one to my "home"county, and no one ever raised an objection). It was in one of my traffic school appearances that I was told that lane splitting is legal iff the rider is not exceeding the posted speed limit, and not passing with a speed more than 15 mph faster than the cars being passed.

As for myself, I only did it when cars were stopped or barely moving; once it became possible for a driver to change lanes, I'd slip into a lane.
 

·
The Toad
Joined
·
17,458 Posts
If people keep lanesplitting like the guys I see on sportbikes weaving between cars that are doing 60MPH (the biker doing at least 75) then it won't be long before the hammer comes down. Especially since too many use virtually wideopen collectors.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19 Posts
I'm a SoCal lanesplitting nut. Its the city motor officers, charged with enforcing traffic laws, that I need to keep an eye out for. In one case a city motorcycle officer threatened me with a a ticket if I didn't stay in traffic (it was a creative lane change, not lane splitting). CHPs seem more relaxed. A car patrol officer monitoring a lengthy metered carpool onramp said, and I quote, "If I were you, I'd have been through here long ago!" I asked "Can I do that?!" He basically encouraged me to split all the onramp traffic (at less than Mach 5) and cut the the head of the line.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
273 Posts
It obviously is part of their rigorous training to presume that every other person on the road has inferior powers of observation to their own. The fact of the matter is that most police are not the brightest individuals out there (probably still above the human average though). It has been my personal experience that they are typically useless. I have had a motorcycle stolen from me, my parents' house was robbed, and the only thing the cops have done for me was write a $120 ticket for not stopping while turning right on red. Unfortunately it is extremely difficult to prove that a police officer is not some sort of omnipotent being when in court. Clearly they think they are all-knowing and all-seeing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
35 Posts
Wow, how can they make time to fit arrogant prick training in between training them for superhuman perceptive skills?



It's great to see that police look at regular citizens with such disdain. I'm sure that really reinforces faith in our system and encourages people to want to participate in it in a way beneficial to society.





 

·
Registered
Joined
·
162 Posts
Judgement effects Perception

n my experience most officers are descent people with descent judgement. Unfortunately the ones we deal with most are those whom, because of poor judgement, ticket every perceived infraction. These types are more concerned with the letter of the law than with it's *intent*. In this way all officers get a bad reputation. THE LAW is no substitute for common sense (which isn't so common these days). That goes for cops as well as riders.

Without more information I can't say whether this rider has a good case or not. Either way my advice is to CONTEST! There is as excellent post by a former officer further down that describes some options. Good luck!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
33 Posts
I'm yet another lane splitting fan in the bay area. My daily commute takes me down 160 to 4, 242, 680, 24, 980 to the Oakland waterfront. I usually cut about 20-40 minutes off that 70 mile trip by riding and splitting lanes.



I have, on several occasions, split lanes right past a sitting or barely moving CHP car. When I've done it at low speads they've never said a word. One time I passed a CHP at a higher speed which illicited a "SLOW DOWN!" from his bullhorn, but that was it. (the sudden loud noise scarred the heck out of me...he obviously had seen me coming and had time to get his mike ready) On another occasion a CHP bike actually came up behind me while I was splitting on 880 and flashed his lights/siren at me. He only wanted me to go faster or get out of his way as he just motored on by when I pulled over.



More recently, I had a CHP bike on 101 pull me over just as I quit lane splitting. I had been moving through traffic briskly, but when I stopped passing people about 1/2 mile before my exit to start moving over to the exit lane I ended up tailgating the cars in front of me. Easy enough to do when you've just spent the last 1/2 hr. moving past them. The officer never even got off his bike, just pulled up by me on the shoulder and commented that I had been going "about as fast as I should" and I should be carefull about getting so close. I let him know why (my fault entirely) and he gave me a nod and motored off. Frankly, that was one of the most usefull stops I've ever had. If he had reamed me or written a ticket I would have been too pissed to take it to heart, but the manner in which he conducted himself made me believe he was actually trying to be a help and I've since been more aware of not do the same thing again.



I almost wish I had his name so I could comment to his boss.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,801 Posts
Just last week I was splitting down 24 (like I always do) right next to the rockridge bart station. I cruised up slowly behind a CHP Cruiser and he turned his red spot towards me and lit it up. Needless to say I had the confused dog look under my helmet. Traffic was at about 15mph and I was around 20-25mph, normally most CHP just wave. Still a bit confused on the issue as I had plenty of room and it was about the safest I have split in a good long while.
 
1 - 20 of 66 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top