Is A Rolling Stop Legal In California?

by Jim on October 25, 2022

One of the most pervasive driving violations in the state of California is what’s commonly referred to as the “California Stop” or the “California Roll”. You might know it as a rolling stop if you reside in any other state. A rolling stop is when drivers fail to bring their vehicles to a halt at a stop sign. In other words, all four wheels are still in motion after crossing a stop sign which permits a right turn.

In California, it is against the law for drivers to make rolling stops whatever the circumstance due to the safety risk it poses. Law enforcement officials are always looking for reckless drivers who indulge in this dangerous driving behavior. You’ll often spot them around stop signs waiting to apprehend violators. Getting caught by a police officer for making a California Stop or rolling a right turn when the traffic light is red can result in a fine and an increase in your car insurance rates.

What Is A Rolling Stop?

As you may have guessed from the name, a rolling stop is when a negligent driver fails for whatever reason to bring his or her vehicle to a complete stop at a red light or stop sign. This dangerous driving behavior usually results in traffic ticket fines and negative points to the offender’s driving record.

Like most traffic infractions, accumulating an obscene amount of rolling stop tickets can affect your driving record, which may cause you to lose your driver’s license.

As drivers get closer to stop signs, they are required by law to make a full stop at the limit line. Going beyond it even in the slightest will be treated as a traffic violation. As you approach a stop sign, you must begin to slow down and ensure that your vehicle’s speedometer is at zero, coming to a complete stop once you reach the limit line.

After waiting for 3 seconds, you can make your way through the intersecting roadway if the road ahead is clear to prevent harm. Although countless drivers in California engage in this reckless driving behavior, thinking nothing of it, note that the penalties that come with this driving offense aren’t to be taken lightly.

The Impact Of A Rolling Stop Citation On A Driver’s Insurance Rates

A motorist in a hurry is most likely to ignore traffic safety rules and engage in a rolling stop violation. Instead of stopping their vehicles, such drivers prefer to slow down, believing it will help them save time. The majority of drivers who do this are unaware of the risks involved. Some are even unaware of the fact that it’s against the law.

Sadly, it’s all too easy to do a rolling stop which is all the more reason to watch out for traffic lights and anticipate stop signs, especially if you happen to be in a hurry.

One of the least expected repercussions of getting a California Roll citation is a spike in the offender’s insurance claim. Rolling stop violations are among the most common traffic offenses in the United States. Stop sign violations in California can lead to a 19% increase in the violator’s insurance rates.

How Much Is A Rolling Stop Ticket In California?

The fine for doing a California Roll is $238. The total fee could also include additional court costs and other surcharges. Not showing up in court at the requested time or failing to pay the fine will lead to an increased fine, driver’s license suspension is also possible.

If you ever receive a rolling stop ticket, it is in your best interest to take action before the notice to appear date arrives. You can do so by paying the ticket fine and sending your proof of payment to the courthouse to show that you have no intention of evading the penalty for your actions and indicate your willingness to comply. The moment the court receives your payment, the point for rolling a stop will be added to your record, and the case will be closed.

Another way you can get some leniency is by showing up in court on the exact date on your citation ticket, after which you can either plead guilty or non-guilty or request a reduction in your ticket fee by pleading financial difficulty. While you can choose to represent yourself in court, it’s best to have an experienced traffic attorney in your corner.

How To Fight A Rolling Stop Ticket In California

Before you can be found guilty of a California Roll, there must be evidence that proves you failed to make a complete stop at a crosswalk, intersection, or at the limit line of a stop sign. Remember that you’ll receive a traffic ticket if you commit this traffic offense. Pleading guilty to the charges or being found guilty by the court will lead to you, the driver, facing added points against your record and a hefty fine.

Getting a traffic ticket for a California Roll means you have to pay a $238 fine. It could be higher depending on the circumstances of the incident. To counter the ticket, you’ll need the expertise of a highly qualified ticket lawyer, especially if you hope to keep the incident off your record. The good news is that there are several arguments your attorney can use in your legal defense, some of which are listed below:

1. Prove That There Was A Justifiable Reason For Your Actions

You might have had to drive beyond the stop sign a little due to traffic reasons. Perhaps you were trying to avoid a fender bender from an out-of-control vehicle. In this case, you can plead guilty to driving past a stop sign but only due to fear for your safety or the risk of your vehicle sustaining damage from a vehicle approaching.

2. Claim Mistake Of Fact

You can only be issued a rolling stop ticket if you drive past a stop sign on purpose. If you couldn’t see the stop sign probably because it was damaged, degraded, or covered by a roadside plant, then your ticket attorney can build a solid case for your defense.

3. Counter The Officer’s Observation If You Have A Fool Proof Argument

Most judges prefer to go with the recollection of the law enforcement officer. Therefore your attorney would have to cast doubt on the officer’s testimony if you are to stand a chance in court against the California Roll charges. One of the ways to do so is with the testimony of an eyewitness who saw everything that transpired from a different angle.

4. Challenge The Traffic Official’s Subjective Conclusion

In other words, if you stopped 10 feet from the limit line, depending on the angle the officer saw you, it may seem that you rolled through the stop sign not because you didn’t step on the brakes beforehand. You might want to take photos of your vehicle from the officer’s point of view if you are ever pulled over for doing a California Roll, as it can come in handy in court.

5. If The Sign Was Recently Installed

This defense is not entirely fool proof, but it might help you get a reduced fine if you can prove to the court that you’ve driven on that particular road multiple times, all through which the sign wasn’t present. Therefore your reason for driving past the stop sign was because of the unexpected change.

Things You Should Know About Rolling Stop Violations In California

The state of California is known for its motorists who prefer to play by their own rules. Some of the drivers in the state seem to believe that there’s nothing wrong with driving a certain way so long as other drivers are doing the same thing, which is entirely wrong. Whenever you feel tempted to do a California stop simply because everyone else around you is doing it, remember that you’re likely to get in trouble just as every other driver who commits the same offense.

It can be very tempting to want to drive a few meters past a red light or white line before you come to a complete stop when the road is clear, but before you think of going through with it remember that there are usually traffic authorities set up close by. Here are a few other things you should know about this traffic violation.

1. Rolling Stop Violations Have Consequences

Most people think driving a few meters past a red light sign, or railroad grade crossing doesn’t count as a California Roll violation, so they’re likely to get off with a warning. However, this isn’t the case at all because traffic officials believe this offense to be a significant safety hazard to drivers of other vehicles and pedestrians, which means they rarely ever cut violators any slack.

2. They Are Accompanied By Steep Fines

Besides attending traffic school or losing your California driver’s license, traffic tickets from a California Roll violation can be quite costly, sometimes even up to $250. That and an increased insurance premium can dent one’s finances.

3. You Might Have To Attend Traffic School

To enhance traffic safety, a driver may be issued a court order to attend traffic school all over again for having multiple offenses on his or her record. A repeat offender could have their driving privileges revoked, especially if a personal injury lawsuit is filed against them.

This is all the more reason to exercise reasonable care and come to a complete stop when at an intersecting highway close or a railway crossing.

4. Rolling Past Red Lights And Railroad Stop Signs Can Be Fatal

Driving past a stop sign at a railroad crossing is considered a severe offense and carries with it a rather sizable fine due to the immeasurable safety risk. Law enforcement officials in California issue tickets to drivers who engage in this unsafe driving behavior because they endanger not only their own lives but the lives of railroad users.

If you’re pulled over by a police officer for rolling past a railroad stop, your best action is to consult a law firm with a qualified attorney for the appropriate steps to take.

5. Licence Suspension Is A Possibility

Whether it’s a commercial or non-commercial vehicle, drivers in California are required by law to bring their vehicles to a complete stop when they spot stop signs and at railway crossings with stop signs. If there’s no limit line to watch out for, drivers must stop their vehicles precisely at the intersection entrance.

Driving past the marked limit line or intersection when the traffic light is red, even if it’s by an inch, constitutes a road violation of California traffic laws and other related laws.

Why Rolling Stops Are Deemed Illegal In California

The issue with doing a rolling stop violation is that it can easily become a habit, one that can be very difficult to shake. A significant percentage of road accidents are due to rolling stops, especially the ones that occur when there’s a right turn on red.

Many drivers guilty of this traffic violation, especially those that lead to car crashes, are often shocked to find themselves at intersections meant for cyclists or pedestrians. This goes to show just how dangerous this kind of behavior is.

Final Words

The best way to avoid doing a rolling stop-moving violation is by being aware of road conditions at all times. This includes stop signs and traffic lights, and railroad grade crossing signs. Whenever you spot either of these, remember to slow down at least five seconds before you reach the limit line to ensure your vehicle doesn’t go beyond it.

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