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FAQ: California Driving (and Surviving)

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Archive-name: ca-driving-faq
Last-modified: $Date: 1997/02/03 07:40:58 $
Version: $Revision: 1.31 $

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Copyright (C) 1994-1997 by George J Wu.  All Rights Reserved.
Permission to redistribute is granted provided this notice is not removed.
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for any consequences resulting from any use, of information contained herein.
The contents of this FAQ should not be construed as legal advice, for which
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Below are some recurring questions about driving in California.  Some answers
are extracted from net postings.  Answers include the name and email address of
the author unless anonymity was requested, in which case no author is listed.
Please send any additions, corrections, or suggestions to the update address
listed in an answer, or to the Reply-To address in the header of this message.

Many FAQs, including this one, are available via FTP on the archive site in the directory pub/usenet/news.answers.  The name under which
this FAQ is archived appears in the Archive-name line above (ca-driving-faq).

the questions:

Laws:  general
 1.I got a ticket for XXXX.  Can I beat it in court and how?
 2.There's a mistake on the ticket I just got.  Does that invalidate it?
 3.How do I get a copy of the California Vehicle Code?
 4.What are some noteworthy or peculiar California Vehicle Code laws?

Laws:  driving
 5.Is it legal to change lanes in the middle of an intersection?
 6.Is it legal for vehicles (usually motorcycles) to share a lane?

Laws:  driver's licenses and vehicle registration
 7.What is the grace period for getting a driver's license after establishing
   residency in California?  What is the grace period for vehicle registration?
 8.Do I have to have my driver's license with me when driving?
 9.Do I have to have any identification with me while not driving?
10.What information is in the driver license mag stripe?
11.Are there special license plates of Yosemite's Tunnel View?
12.How often can I be cited for expired vehicle registration?  And is it always
   or never a fix-it ticket?
13.Does my vehicle have to be registered, even if I don't drive it?
14.How much will it cost to import to CA and register an out-of-state vehicle?

Laws:  vehicle equipment
15.Is window tinting legal? What about pull-down blinds and window stickers?
16.Do I need chains in the mountains if I have snow tires?  If so, what kind?

Laws:  enforcement (see also "Radar and speed trap" section)
17.Can a local cop cite you for speeding on an Interstate?
18.Can a CHP officer write a ticket for an offense not committed on a freeway?
19.What's the difference between the CA Highway Patrol and the CA State Police?

Radar and speed traps
20.What are some locations of speed and carpool lane enforcement traps?
21.Are radar detectors illegal in CA, or just not popular for some reason?

Traffic court, traffic school, and DMV
22.Am I entitled to a jury trial for my traffic ticket?  Can I have counsel
   appointed at public expense?  Can I be sent to prison if found guilty?
23.Why can't I both argue my case in court and use traffic school to keep
   the points off my license if I lose?
24.I've heard about "comedy traffic schools".  Has anyone tried one of these?
25.Do tickets dismissed by traffic school attendance appear on my DMV record?
26.Do out-of-state tickets appear on your California DMV printout, and
   can insurance companies can find this info out if they don't?
27.Does the DMV find out about tickets received from Federal authorities?
28.Did you know you'll soon lose the right to a trial for parking tickets?

29.How much insurance must a driver carry?
30.Do insurance companies have to be licensed in CA?  How can I tell if one is?
31.Can my insurer legally ask me for my roommates' names and license numbers?
32.What's the net.recommendation for motorcycle insurance?

33.What's the state of Los Angeles' freeways after the Northridge earthquake?
   If I'm driving down from Northern California, should I take I-5 as usual,
   or is there now a faster route?
34.When you see a sign "Litter removal next two miles by organization XXX",
   what exactly does XXX do?

35.How much are the gasoline taxes in CA?

36.Can I get a ticket for a traffic violation while I'm riding a bicycle?
37.Will such bicycle traffic convictions go on my DMV driving record?
38.I had to slow down because of a bicyclist and then cross the center line to
   pass.  Aren't those damn fool lycra-butts supposed to ride on the
   sidewalk/in the gutter/in the bike lane/etc?
39.Oh?  So what are these bike lanes for, then?
40.One of those gangs of a dozen neon-shirted lycra-butts was taking up a whole
   lane the other day, don't they have to ride single file?
41.Okay, so what do I do to get around a bicyclist and be on my way?
42.I'm a slow, occasional cyclist and I feel a lot safer riding the way I walk,
   against the traffic.  Is that OK?

For further information . . .
43.What are some useful phone numbers and/or addresses?
44.What are some recommended readings?
45. Can I actually get traffic conditions over the Internet?

CHP radios and scanners
46.What is a "CHiPs detector"?  What's the complete story on CHP radios?
47.But aren't most citizens prohibited from using mobile radio scanners?

48.Where can I recycle used motor oil?
49.What about recycling in other parts of California?

and the answers:

Laws:  general

 1.I got a ticket for XXXX.  Can I beat it in court and how?

   It's hard to answer that question generally.  Some random suggestions:
   -- Pick up a copy of Nolo Press' _Fight_Your_Ticket_ (see the recommended
      readings question for ordering information and a review).
   -- Read the text of the law that you were cited for.  It's usually a CVC
      citation, see the question on getting a copy of the California Vehicle
   -- In some counties, if you go to court you waive the option to choose
      traffic school.  See the question on traffic school attendance for more
      information.  And call the clerk of the court where you got the ticket
      to find out what your options are.

 2.There's a mistake on the ticket I just got.  Does that invalidate it?

   from (Chris Calley) on 25 mar 93:

   Should you decide to fight the ticket, you might be able to argue that since
   the cop was not observant in writing down the correct state on your
   citation, that he/she might also have not been observant regarding your
   speed.  I do not believe that the simple fact that an error exists on the
   citation automatically gets the ticket dismissed.

   from (Jeff Makey) on 26 mar 93:

   About 5 years ago I got a speeding ticket in Maryland while driving a rented
   car.  Everything on the citation was correct but my driver's license number
   (the cop wrote down some other number that was on my license).  I paid the
   fine rather than travel back to Maryland to fight it, and my insurance
   company *did* eventually find out about it.  I assume that the ticket showed
   up on my California driving record, but never checked to be sure.  So don't
   expect a wrong license number to keep your record clean.

 3.How do I get a copy of the California Vehicle Code?

   The CVC is now available on the web at

   Or go to any DMV office and pay $3.00.  Many libraries carry it or a
   privately pulished version with interpretations and case references,
   such as West's Annotated California Codes and Deering's California Codes.

   from (Mark Ball) on 4 Feb 1994:

   The CA vehicle code is now available by anon ftp from

   from (Robb Topolski-KJ6YT) on 21 Feb 1994:

   you can also use gopher://

 4.What are some noteworthy or peculiar California Vehicle Code laws?

   Disclaimer:  these are paraphrased, and therefore may be wrong.  If
   you need to know exactly what the law says, please look it up!

   -- both license plates issued for a vehicle must be displayed [CVC 5200]
   -- a seller of a vehicle has 5 days to notify the DMV of the sale [CVC 5900]
   -- a new owner must apply to the DMV for transfer of registration within 10
      days [CVC 5902]
   -- an accident must be reported within 10 days to the DMV in Sacramento if
      there is death, bodily injury, or property damage > $500 [CVC 16000]
   -- U-turns are permitted on any green light unless signs prohibit[CVC 21451]
   -- a driver may not stop IN the crosswalk for a red light [CVC 21453(a)]
   -- right turn on circular red (not a red arrow!), and left turn on circular
      red from a one-way street onto a one-way street, are permitted after
      stopping and unless otherwise posted [CVC 21453(b)]
   -- a driver may not turn against a red arrow for the indicated turn
      regardless of signals shown for other movements [CVC 21453(c)]
   -- curb markings [CVC 21458}:
      red:  no stopping, standing, or parking
      yellow:  stopping only for loading or unloading passengers or freight
      white:  loading/unloading passengers, or depositing mail in adjacent box
      green:  time limit parking specified by local ordinance
      blue:  handicap parking
   -- a double parallel solid line may be crossed to make a left or U-turn,
      or turn into or out of a driveway or private road [CVC 21460]
   -- a two-way left-turn lane may only be used to prepare for and make a left
      turn or permitted U-turn from or into a highway; a vehicle shall not be
      driven in that lane for more than 200 feet [CVC 21460.5(c)]
   -- a _pair_ of double parallel solid lines may not be crossed [CVC 21651(a)]
   -- a U-turn can be made wherever a left turn can be made on a divided
      highway [CVC 21651(a)(2)], although see references to 22102-3 below
   -- notwithstanding the prima facie speed limits, a vehicle driven at less
      than the normal speed of traffic must be driven in the right-hand lane
      except when passing or preparing for a left turn [CVC 21654]
   -- motorcycles can make use of high occupancy lanes unless explicitly
      prohibited by traffic control devices [CVC 21655.5]
   -- the descending vehicle shall yield to the ascending vehicle on a grade if
      the roadway is of insufficient width for both [CVC 21661]
   -- when preparing to turn, you must drive into a bicycle lane, if one, no
      more than 200 feet from the intersection [CVC 21717]
   -- pedestrians have right-of-way in crosswalks, but pedestrians shall not
      walk or run into the path of a vehicle [CVC 21950]
   -- right turns must be made into the rightmost lane except when turning from
      a terminating highway with three or more lanes or from a one-way highway
      at an intersection [CVC 22100(a)]
   -- left turns may be made into any available lane [CVC 22100(b)]
   -- U-turns must be made from the two-way left turn lane, if one, or
      leftmost lane otherwise [CVC 22100.5, 22102]
   -- U-turns are prohibited in a business district except at intersections or
      through openings in a divided roadway [CVC 22102]
   -- U-turns are permitted in a residential district only if no vehicle
      approaching is closer than 200 feet or where protected by sign or
      signal [CVC 22103]
   -- turn signals are required for turns and lane changes which may affect any
      other vehicle [CVC 22107]
   -- signals are required during the last 100 feet before turning [CVC 22108]
   -- vehicles shall be stopped or parked, where permitted, with the right-hand
      wheels within 18 inches of the right-hand curb; if no curbs, right-hand
      parallel parking is required unless otherwise indicated [CVC 22502(a)]
   -- it is unlawful to drive a vehicle while under the influence of an
      alcoholic beverage or any drug [CVC 23152(a)]
   -- it is unlawful for any person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight,
      of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle [CVC 23152(b)]
   -- During darkness, lights shall not project glaring rays into the eyes of
      oncoming drivers when approaching within 500 feet.  The use of low beams
      shall be deemed to avoid glare regardless of road contour.  Low beam
      headlamps shall be used when following another vehicle within 300 feet.
      In all cases, foglamps and/or auxiliary passing lamps may be used with
      low beams if they are aimed so as to avoid projecting glaring rays into
      the eyes of oncoming drivers.  [CVC 24403-9]
   -- The operator of a private motor vehicle is responsible for the use of
      seat belts by him/herself and all passengers 4 years of age or over
      [CVC 27315(d)]; in addition, passengers 16 years of age or over are
      responsible for their own seat belt use [CVC 27315(e)].  The fine for
      not wearing a seat belt is $20 for the first offense and $50 thereafter
      [CVC 27315(h)].

      from (Sharen A. Rund):
      Effective 1 Jan 1993, you can be stopped and ticketed for _not_ wearing
      your seat belt - currently, you can only be ticketed if the officer
      stopped you for another infraction, then noticed that you were not
      wearing your seatbelt.
   -- a passenger seat restraint must be used for children under 4 [CVC 27360]
   -- there doesn't appear to be a law giving right-of-way to either party in
      a merge onto a freeway, although the Spring 1991 DMV California Driver
      Handbook states "Freeway traffic has the right of way." [p. 48].
   -- there is no law specifically prohibiting a lane change in the middle of
      an intersecting, see FAQ below on that
   -- there appears to be no maximum permitted number of lane changes per mile,
      although CVC 22108 does require one to signal at least 100 feet before
      executing a lane change

Laws:  driving

 5.Is it legal to change lanes in the middle of an intersection?

   from (Chuck Fry) on 25 Mar 1993:

   There is no section in the CVC specifically outlawing a lane change in the
   middle of an intersection.  HOWEVER, many revenue ... uh, law officers will
   ticket you under the blanket section generally known as "Unsafe Lane Change"
   [CVC 21658(a)].

 6.Is it legal for vehicles (usually motorcycles) to share a lane?

   from (Sidney Markowitz) on 21 Jun 1993,
        modified on 23 Jun after further research:

   The motorcycle drivers handbook handed out by the DMV discourages lane
   sharing (driving alongside cars in the same lane) because it is often a
   violation of the Basic Speed Law (CVC 22350) or involves unsafe lane
   changes.  However, that statement in itself indicates that there is no law
   against lane sharing, and that a rider can be cited only if the act violates
   one of the other laws.

   Many states other than California explicitly make lane sharing illegal.

   California does make "lane splitting", occupying two lanes by riding the
   line between them, illegal, I believe in CVC 21658(a):

      A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practical entirely within
      a single lane and shall not be moved from the lane until such
      movement can be made with reasonable safety.

   The common response that I got from a query to on this
   subject is that Bay Area cops do not ticket for riding a motorcycle slowly
   (on the order of 10mph faster than the cars) alongside a line of cars
   stopped at a traffic light or stuck in a traffic jam, as long as you are
   within a lane (not on the shoulder).  However, it also seems common
   net.wisdom that police in Marin County and in Fremont do issue tickets for
   that behavior.  The important point is that the tickets are for violation of
   the basic speed law or for unsafe lane changes, which are subject to the
   judgement of the officer and so are pretty difficult to challenge in court.

   Regardless of the warnings in the DMV handbook, I and many other people have
   been taught in the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's rider training course that
   it may be safer for motorcyclists to slowly and carefully ride alongside a
   line of stopped cars than to sit in line where they may be rearended by a
   car that is not paying attention.  Also, many motorcycles are air cooled and
   will overheat in just a few minutes of idling while sitting still.

   This is one of my major peeves:  That so many motorists act like I'm doing
   something illegal and unfair by riding where they can't drive when I lane
   share at a light, and that there is absolutely no mention of the motorcycle
   laws on the standard driver's license exam, so there is no reason for them
   to know better.

   There:  Now a few more car drivers know about this.  When you see a
   motorcyclist riding by you when you are stopped or almost stopped, don't
   swerve out to cut them off.  They are legal (if they are being careful),
   they may be acting out of safety considerations, and they are reducing
   traffic congestion by getting out of the thick of it instead of being part
   of it.

Laws:  driver's licenses and vehicle registration

 7.What is the grace period for getting a driver's license after establishing
   residency in California?  What is the grace period for vehicle registration?

   The grace period for a driver's licenses is 10 days unless you are employed
   for the purpose of driving, in which case there is no grace period [CVC
   12505].  Application for vehicle registration is required within 20 days
   [CVC 4152.5].

 8.Do I have to have my driver's license with me when driving?

   If you get hauled in for a traffic violation, yes.  A licensee must display
   it to a magistrate or judge upon request if brought before them for any
   traffic violation [CVC 12952].  A charge of failure to have your license in
   possession while driving is automatically dismissed if you produce it in
   court [CVC 12951(a)], as long as it was valid, etc.  After two such
   dismissals, the court has the option not to dismiss.  So, you shouldn't
   make a habit of not carrying it while driving.

 9.Do I have to have any identification with me while not driving?

   Not if you don't break any laws.  If you do break the law and don't want to
   sit in jail, it helps to have positive identification:  "Whenever any person
   is arrested by a peace officer for a misdemeanor, that person shall be
   released [...] unless [...] [t]he person could not provide satisfactory
   evidence of personal identification" [Penal Code 853.6(i)(5)].  Note that
   most traffic tickets are not for misdemeanors but infractions, and "all
   provisions of law relative to misdemeanors shall apply to infractions"
   [Penal Code 19d].

10.What information is in the driver license mag stripe?

   (RISKS appears on Usenet as comp.risks.  See any issue for information
    on accessing RISKS DIGEST archives.)

   In RISKS DIGEST 11.03, hibbert@xanadu.UUCP (Chris Hibbert) wrote:

   There will be a magnetic stripe on the back with three tracks encoded on it.
   The middle track will be encoded in the same format as your credit cards,
   and will therefore be readable with ordinary commercial readers.  This track
   will only contain 40 bytes of information, and will only contain the name,
   driver's license number, and expiration date.  The other two tracks will be
   in a format that is incompatible with current commercial readers, and will
   contain the rest of the information that is printed on the front: birth
   date, eye color, hair color, height, weight etc.

   The picture on the front will be an ordinary photo [color], with a hologram
   of the state and DMV seals to make counterfeiting harder.  There will
   apparently be a different version for people under the legal drinking age:
   the picture will be on the right instead of the left.

   In RISKS DIGEST 11.63, atn@cory.Berkeley.EDU (Alan Nishioka) wrote:

   Just for fun, I thought I'd try to read it.  I had previously been able to
   read bank cards (with help from sci.electronics).

   Bank Cards -- conform to ANSI/ISO 7810-1985 ($10)
   Track 1:    6 bit word with 1 bit parity.  LSB first.
               code offset 32 below ASCII code.
   Track 2:    4 bit word with 1 bit parity.  LSB first.  Numbers only.

   Driver's License --
   Track 1:    6 bit word with no parity.  Otherwise same as Bank Card.
   Track 2:    Same as Bank Card.
   Track 3:    ?

   California Driver's License:
   Track 2:    (low density)
      8 unidentified digits   License Number   Separator
      Expiration Date (YYMM)   Separator   Date of Birth (YYYYMMDD)
   Track 1:    (High density)
      Name   Address   City
   Track 3:    (High density.  Can't reposition read head. )

   It looks like there is space for a 58 character name [...], a 29 character
   address and a 13 character city.  I suspect the third track contains the
   rest of the information from the front of the license.

11.Are there special license plates of Yosemite's Tunnel View?

   from (David Lee) on 11 Jan 94

   Licence plates are now available that benefit Yosemite National Park.
   These licence plates are issued by the State of California and help to
   improve the park by funding specific projects through the Yosemite Fund.
   The plates are primarily light blue in color and show the panorama from
   Tunnel View.  The word "California" at the top is a cursive script in red
   and the words "Yosemite National Park" are in a sans serif font across
   the bottom.

   You can go down to your local DMV office and convert your licence plates
   over by applying and plunking down $41.  This fee is both a DMV
   administrative fee to convert your plates and an $18 contribution to the
   Fund.  You'll then be sent your new plates either with the new number
   series (1UAx xxx) or a conversion of your existing vanity plates.
   When your car comes up for renewal again, you'll be paying an extra
   $25 each time that will be going to the Yosemite Fund.

12.How often can I be cited for expired vehicle registration?  And is it always
   or never a fix-it ticket?

   from on 3 Mar 1992:

   If I had gotten a ticket for an expired registration, I would have gotten it
   taken care of very quickly.  Here is an explanation I got from a police
   officer whom I asked about expired registration:

   He usually allows 1-2 months of padding before he pulls someone over.  He
   will write the ticket "ALMOST" all of the time because the first time is
   usually a fix-it.  If he pulls someone over, and they already received a
   ticket for the expired registration within 5-7 days of the current day, he
   will usually let it go.  If it is longer than 5-7 days, he will always write
   the ticket and not make it a fix-it.  Fix-it tickets are always at the
   discretion of the officer.

   As for the officer stating that you had 6 weeks, there is nothing in the CVC
   that states that.  Once your registration expires, you should expect
   receiving a ticket.  Your registration is due the day the one from the
   previous year expires.

   from (Melville Capps) Tue Dec 28 14:49:14 1993

   This is not legal advice -- this is a description of how I successfully
   defended an expired registration ticket marked "non-correctable," and
   got it dismissed by the judge after showing proof of correction.

   The issuing of a fix-it ticket is NOT at the discretion of the issuing
   officer (despite what they and many judges believe)!

   Follow this typically convoluted legal citation carefully. . .

   Start at CVC 40610 which states how the officer SHALL issue a fix-it
   ticket for any of the violations listed in CVC 4454 (not having valid
   registration card in the vehicle) OR a violation of CVC 40522 (which
   refers one to CVC 40303.5 which lists what violations are correc-table).
   The violations that are correctable include CVC 4000(a) (DRIVING a
   vehicle without a valid registration -- it doesn't matter who owns the
   vehicle the violation is committed by the DRIVER).  The officer MUST
   issue tickets for the listed violations as correctable unless he or she
   finds any of the following in CVC 40610 (2) (b):

   1. "Evidence of fraud or persistent neglect."
   2. "The violation presents an immediate safety hazard."
   3. "The violator does not agree to, or cannot,
       promptly correct the violation."

   What is at the officer's "discretion" is not the issuing of a fix-it
   ticket, but whether or not the conditions above exist and therefore
   prohibit the issuing of a fix-it ticket.  It is well worth challenging
   the findings of the officer.  Fight That Ticket! (and before you do
   read the Nolo Press Book, "Fight Your Ticket," for some real legal ad-
   vice.  If at one's arraignment, the judge will listen to reasoning why
   the ticket should have been correctable he or she may dismiss it upon
   showing proof of correction.  If the judge refuses to listen to one's
   argument at arraignment (which is likely), then instead of entering a
   plea one needs to demur to the charge.  A demur is basically stating
   that one is improperly charged, and that the court therefore has no
   jurisdiction to hear the case.  Read the book "Fight Your Ticket"
   and/or get legal advice before doing this though as it is technical in
   nature, impedes the normal cash flow of the traffic court, and will
   probably piss off the judge, but its your legal right!

   The most obvious way to fix a registration violation is register the
   car, but another sure way is to stop driving the vehicle.  Often if
   you are driving someone else's vehicle the officer will assume that
   you cannot correct the violation and therefore issue you a non-
   correctable ticket.

13.Does my vehicle have to be registered, even if I don't drive it?

   from (Dan Hepner) on 23 Dec 1992:

   Normal registration fees are due if:  The vehicle is parked on a public
   street, or at any public parking facility once during the year in question;
   the vehicle is towed once on a public street during that year; and of
   course, if the vehicle is driven.  One-trip permits allow for moving a
   vehicle from one storage place to another, or to a repair facility, but
   doing either without such a permit incurs the full fee.  Off-highway fees
   (usually far less than normal registration) are due if the vehicle is
   operated, or transported, off-highway within the state of CA.

   Once due, these fees do not go away with the next year; rather the opposite
   occurs, the fees are delinquent, implying a penalty.  The longer they remain
   delinquent, the greater the penalty.  Each year adds new fees, and a new
   penalty.  As bad as could be imagined.

   There does appear the _option_ of waiving the fees and penalties to new
   owners, but CVC 9562 suggests that this should not be expected if one buys a
   vehicle with out-of-date plates.  "Certificates of non-operation", which
   claim that the vehicle never incurred the fee, are commonly used in
   circumstances which would imply a massive liability, but one must be signed
   by each of the previous owners.

   from (Melville Capps) Tue Dec 28 14:49:14 1993

   There is now a non-operational registration that must be used if the
   vehicle is not going to be on the public streets (either driven or
   parked).  The non-operational registration costs $5 for the year, and
   you can register the car at any time by sending in the registration
   fees.  Unfortunately the greedy DMV doesn't pro rate your registration.
   The state raised over $1,000,000 in 1992 from the $5 non-op fees. How
   much money the state grabbed by not pro rating the registrations on these
   200,000 vehicles is anyone's guess.

14.How much will it cost to import to CA and register an out-of-state vehicle?

   from (Al Clark), (Chuck Fry), (Dan Hepner), and (David Levine)
   in Jan 1993:

   Assuming it meets Federal emission standards, you can register it in CA,
   but you need to pay:
   1) Use tax (in lieu of sales tax) for it's value, unless you did not buy it
      for use in CA.  If you owned the car for more than 90 days before you
      brought it into CA, you are okay.  The use tax is reduced by the amount
      of sales tax paid to the another state, if owned for 90 days or less.
      The stated purpose is to reduce any advantage one might have in buying a
      car in some other state "for use in California".

   2) Smog impact fee, a one time fee of $300.  If the car meets CA emission
      standards for the year of manufacture, this is not applicable.  It says
      what emission standards it was manufactured to meet on a sticker under
      the hood.

   3) You'll need a smog check and certificate for most vehicles.  Figure
      around $40 for this.

   4) Normal CA registration costs.  Part of this is based on car's value.
      This like a personal property tax, and this part is a deduction on your
      Federal Income Tax.

   For late model vehicles, the smog check is usually not a problem.  First,
   there isn't that much difference between "49-state" emission standards and
   California's.  Second, the smog checkers recognize that it's a 49-state car
   and test it to the appropriate standard.  Third, any well-maintained car
   should have no problem passing even the stiffer California standards.  A
   modern catalytic converter-equipped car should be putting out air that's
   almost as clean as it's taking in.

   It's hard to generalize for older vehicles, such as those without catalytic
   converters.  The 49-state and CA emissions standards were quite different
   way back when, and it's not unusual to be required to retrofit such items as
   closed PCV systems and air pumps.

   You don't have to bring a 49-state car up to CA tailpipe standards.  The
   stated purpose of the smog impact fee ($300) law is to fund checking up to
   see if this was once a California car which was taken out of state and is
   now being brought back in as a 49-state car not in compliance with CA's
   standards.  Many cars are "50-state cars", and have an emissions sticker
   which claims that they meet the CA emissions standards, even if bought in
   Maine.  These cars are not subject to the $300 fee.

   What you really do have to watch out for is removed smog control parts which
   were perhaps legal, or quasi-legal to remove some places so long as the
   emissions met local standards.  In CA (and in many other states as well) the
   smog test includes a visual equipment check:  certain emissions-control
   components must be installed and functional, regardless of the outcome of
   the tailpipe test.  This is because the tailpipe test is under very
   restricted conditions (at idle and at one steady-state speed with no load)
   and doesn't check all of the emissions species (just unburned hydrocarbons
   and carbon monoxide).  In contrast, the vehicle manufacturer had to
   demonstrate compliance over a much more representative driving cycle, had to
   meet standards for oxides of nitrogen and evaporative emissions, and had to
   meet 50K or 100K mile durability requirements.  More than one out-of-state
   vehicle has met the recommendation "take it to Nevada and sell it" when the
   cost of replacing such parts exceeded the value of the car.

Laws:  vehicle equipment

15.Is window tinting legal? What about pull-down blinds and window stickers?

   from (John Hunley) on 14 Dec and 15 Dec 1992:

   The applicable paragraph in the CVC is 26708.  It's too long to quote here
   in full, but basically what it says (disclaimer: this is my own personal
   interpretation, I'm not a lawyer, don't come running to me if you get
   nailed) is that you may not operate with "any object or material placed,
   displayed, installed, affixed, or applied upon the windshield or side or
   rear windows."  Side windows to the rear of the driver are exempted
   (26708b4), as is the rear window IF you have mirrors on both left- and
   right-hand sides (26708b8).  Tinted safety glass is permitted by 26708.5b.
   Therefore, the basic distinction is whether you have tinted glass or tinting
   that is stuck onto the glass.  There's no mention of "factory" vs. "third
   party."  A third-party tint job would be legal if it was done by replacing
   the windshield and front windows with tinted safety glass, rather than by
   sticking or painting something onto the existing glass.

   An interesting side note is that 26708a3 specifically includes snow and ice
   as an obstruction covered under 26708.  So you can get a ticket for 26708
   for having snow or ice on your windshield or front windows, as well as
   stick-on tinting.  Same violation.

   The pull-down blinds are permitted ONLY if the driver or front passenger has
   a signed document from a physician or optometrist (CVC 26708b10) stating
   that they are required due to a medical or visual condition.  CVC 26708b3
   allows "signs, stickers, or other materials which are displayed in a 7-inch
   square in the lower corner of the windshield ... [or] ... rear window
   farthest removed from the driver, or ... in a 5-inch square in the lower
   corner of the windshield nearest the driver."

   Also exempted are such things as rearview mirrors, rear window wiper
   hardware, rear trunk lid handles and hinges, destination signs on busses,
   magnifying or wide-angle lenses on the passenger side window of a truck, and
   of course the standard equipment sun visors.

16.Do I need chains in the mountains if I have snow tires?  If so, what kind?

   from ajh@Xenon.Stanford.EDU (Alan Hu) on 10 dec 1992:

   According to my memory according to a pamphlet put out by CalTrans a
   few years ago, chain requirements come in three varieties:
	1.  Chains required.  Four-wheel drive or snow tires OK.
	2.  Chains required.  Four-wheel drive with snow tires OK.
	3.  Chains required on all vehicles, including four-wheel drive.
   Usually you'll see #2, although I've seen #1 before.  The pamphlet
   said they'll usually close the road instead of doing a #3.  Tires
   marked M/S or M+S qualify as snow tires [CVC 27459].  Chains must be
   installed on at least two drive wheels [CVC 27459].  Four wheel
   drive vehicles must still carry chains.

   The chain requirements used to surprise my non-CA friends.  If you
   haven't seen them enforced yet:
	You'll see the Chains Required sign.  Lots of people will be
	pulled off the side of the road putting on chains.  Various
	people wander from car to car offering to put your chains on
	for a fee (but they're not allowed to sell chains).  Farther
	down the road, a checkpoint checks EVERY car that tries to continue.
	If you don't meet the chain requirement, they turn you back.
   In short, if you're driving in the Sierra, they're very good to have.
   Also, there's a toll-free CalTrans road condition number [see the
   phone numbers question in this FAQ].

   from (Dan Hepner) on 9 dec 1992:

   Most people could indeed drive the passes when snow covered without
   chains, IF the road were more or less clear of other cars.  But in
   stop-n-go driving, common in the Sierra during a snow storm, required
   chains are what prevents total chaos.

   -- And, if so, what would y'all recommend?

   For infrequent usage, such as having the bad luck to hit snow on a
   Sierra pass during a drought, consider the cable type.  For frequent
   usage, or maximum effect, use the real thing.

   Watch out for oversized tires, or even maximally sized tires on front
   wheel drive.  The chains can extend wide enough to hit other front-end
   components.  Cables mitigate this problem.

Laws:  enforcement (see also "Radar and speed trap" section)

17.Can a local cop cite you for speeding on an Interstate?

   Yes.  For felonies and public offenses (which include infractions and
   misdemeanors) in the presence of the officer, or actions that could cause
   great bodily harm or death, the sworn POST (Peace Officers Standard
   Training) certified officer is empowered in the entire state [see Penal
   Code 830, 832, 1523].  Furthermore, the authority of sheriffs, police
   officers, etc., extends to any place in the state as to any public offense
   committed (or believed to have been committed) within the political
   subdivision which employs him or her [Penal Code 830.1].

18.Can a CHP officer write a ticket for an offense not committed on a freeway?

   Yes [Penal Code 830.2(a)].

19.What's the difference between the CA Highway Patrol and the CA State Police?

   The primary duty of CHP officers is enforcement of the vehicle code [Penal
   Code 830.2(a)].  The primary duty of CSP officers is to "provide police
   services for the protection of state officers, and the protection of state
   properties and occupants thereof" [Penal Code 830.2(b)].

Radar and speed traps

20.What are some locations of speed and carpool lane enforcement traps?

entry format:  zone, city or area, road, posted speed, submitter


Bay area
Central Valley
LA metro
N CA rural
S CA rural
San Diego metro

Certain fields omitted where not applicable.  A ? indicates missing
data.  Direction before the road indicates submitter specified that
direction of travel as the speed trap.

If you would like to add to or correct the speed traps list, please
send entries in the format you see here.  Please tell me
if you wish to remain anonymous.  If you don't tell me, I will list
you as a submitter.  This list was originally compiled by

Bay Area, Atherton, Middlefield Rd, 25, jazzman
Bay Area, Berkeley, Adeline Ave., 25 + Basic Speed Law voided, georgew
Bay Area, Palo Alto, San Antonio Rd. @ 101, 35, howardp
Bay Area, Campbell, Hamilton Ave. E. of Saratoga Ave, 35, joe
Bay Area, Campbell, Leigh Ave. S. of Hamilton Ave, 35, joe
Bay Area, Campbell, Hwy 85 (CHP uses radar), 65, georgewu
Bay Area, Cor?elia, I-80 near where it meets I-680, 65, muir
Bay Area, Cupertino, Hwy 85 (CHP uses radar), 65, georgewu
Bay Area, Fremont, Grimmer Blvd near Blacow Rd--no speed limit sign, 35, marcb
Bay Area, Fremont, Mission Blvd and Nursery Ave, 50, marcb
Bay Area, Fremont, Paseo Padre near Covington Dr, 30, marcb
Bay Area, Fremont, Paseo Padre Pkwy near Darwin Dr, 30, marcb
Bay Area, Fremont, 5 Corners area (Fremont/Washington/Union etc.), 25/35, marcb
Bay Area, Los Altos, Foothill Expr @ Loyola fire house, 45, georgewu
Bay Area, Los Altos Hills, Foothill Expr north of Edith, 45, georgewu
Bay Area, Los Altos Hills, I-280 S. at Magdelena Rd (CHP hides off of freeway),
   65, jazzman
Bay Area, Livermore, Alden Lane, 25, poffen
Bay Area, Livermore, 1st Street, 25, poffen
Bay Area, Los Gatos, N Hwy 17 Summit Rd to Hwy 9, 50, marcb
Bay Area, Milpitas, Barber Ln., south of firehouse, 35, gmandel
Bay Area, Milpitas, McCarthy Blvd. btw. 237 & Tasman, 35, gmandel
Bay Area, Milpitas, Milpitas Blvd S of Jacklin Rd, ??, owen
Bay Area, Mtn View, Easy St access ramp from Central Expwy to CA 85, 25, Anon.
Bay Area, Mtn View, Old Middlefield Rd., after US 101 N. offramp, 35, chucko
Bay Area, Mtn View, Rengstorff and Montecito, 35, chucko
Bay Area, Mtn View, US 101 north at CA 85, 65 (CHP hides under bridge), Anon.
Bay Area, Mtn View, US 101 north of Moffett Field/Castro overpass,
   65 (CHP hides way off road), jet
Bay Area, Mtn View, Hwy 85 S. of El Camino (CHP uses radar), 65, georgewu
Bay Area, Oakland, Mandela Pkwy (Cypress Blvd), 35, Anon.
Bay Area, Oyster Point, US 101 between SF Airport & Candlestick, 65, lstowell
Bay Area, Palo Alto, N I-280 from vista pts. near Alpine Rd., 65 tsu
Bay Area, Palo Alto or M. View?, San Antonio Rd by Sun PAL-1 building, 35, owen
Bay Area, Palo Alto, Alma, 25/35 or 30?, owen
Bay Area, Palo Alto, Page Mill Rd, 35, Anon.
Bay Area, Pinole, I-80, 65, owen
Bay Area, Redwood City, I-280 @ Farm Hill Road exit ramp, 30?, Anon.
Bay Area, San Carlos/Belmont/San Mateo, I-280 @ Hwy 92, 65, lstowell
Bay Area, San Francisco, E Bosworth and Lippard Sts, stop sign, tsu
Bay Area, San Francisco, 18th and Danver Sts, stop sign, tsu
Bay Area, San Francisco, SE Portola Dr. nr Glenview, 35 (25 during school), tsu
Bay Area, San Jose, I-880 @ US 101 both directions, 65, Anon.
Bay Area, San Jose, Montague railroad and 101 overpasses, 45, georgew
Bay Area, Santa Clara, E Montague @ Lafayette, 45, woolsey
Bay Area, Santa Clara, Lawrence Expressway, 50, Anon.
Bay Area, Santa Clara, San Tomas Expressway, 45, Anon.
Bay Area, Santa Clara, San Tomas Expressway, 45, Anon.
Bay Area, Saratoga, Saratoga Ave. @ Hwy 85, 35, gmandel
Bay Area, Saratoga, Hwy 85 (CHP uses radar), 65, georgewu
Bay Area, Sausalito, US 101 over Waldo Grade, 55, Anon.
Bay Area, Sunnyvale, Central Expressway--recessed portion, 50, dhepner
Bay Area, Sunnyvale, Lawrence Stn Rd btw Elko & Old Mtn Vw-Alviso, 25, jazzman
Bay Area, Sunnyvale, Wolfe Road between Evelyn and I-280, 35, dhepner
Bay Area, Vallejo, I-80 just NE of Vallejo at top of hill, 65, muir
Central Valley, Auburn area, I-80 between Auburn & Alta, 55, muir
Central Valley, Bakersfield, I-5 near Bakersfield, 65, lstowell
Central Valley, Davis, I-80 @ Davis I-80 business loop, 65, muir
Central Valley, Los Banos area, I-5 near CA 152, 65, lstowell
Central Valley, Sacramento, I-80 thru Davis-Sacramento moderately bad, 65, muir
LA metro, Corona, CA 91, 55, mcgillis
LA metro, Grapevine area, I-5, 55, lstowell
LA metro, Palms/West LA, Venice @ Kelton (btw Sepulveda & Overland), 40, cjones
LA metro, W of LAX, Vista Del Mar--Rosecrans to Culver Blvd, 35/40/45, stevea
N CA Rural, , I-80 between Sacramento & Tahoe, 55, lstowell
N CA rural, El Dorado Co., US 50 from Placerville to Sac. Co. line, 55, Anon.
S CA Rural, Solvang, US 101, 55, lstowell
S CA Rural, King City, US 101 in King City, 55, raveling
S CA Rural, San Ardo, US 101 N. near Los Lobos Rd., 55, jmwd
S CA Rural, San Luis Obispo (?), Hwy 1 near San Bernardo Creek Rd., 55, jmwd


Bay area, Santa Clara Co, I-280 from Guadalupe Pwky to Foothill Expwy, , marcb
Bay area, Menlo Park, 101-S btwn Marsh & Willow @ Rlrd. Overpass, , gary.cook
Bay area, San Jose/Milpitas, Hwy 237 near Hwy 880, , owen & marcb
Bay Area, San Jose - Montague Expressway between Zanker and River Oaks/Plumeria
   sometimes / Zanker and Trimble at others, , jazzman


21.Are radar detectors illegal in CA, or just not popular for some reason?

   from (Chuck Fry) on 30 Jul 92:

   They're perfectly legal.  I think it's a combination of factors that
   keeps their popularity down.

   First, there seems to be a mistaken impression that the CHP is not
   permitted to use radar.  This is false; although for years the
   Legislature shot down funding for radar equipment, local jurisdictions
   have always been free to provide gear to the CHP for local trouble
   spots, and I believe the CHP now has funding to buy a limited number
   of radar units of their own.  And remember that local police and
   sheriff's deputies have never been reluctant to use radar.

   Second is the fact that radar is essentially useless in heavy freeway
   traffic, because there's no way to pinpoint one violator.  And at rush
   hour, much of this traffic doesn't ever see the speed limit anyway.

   Third, I just don't think Californians have as much of an adversarial
   relationship with police as residents of other states do.  The CHP by
   and large plays fair, and as a result most drivers here seem to feel
   they deserved a ticket if they got caught.

   I carry a radar detector and make frequent use of it, especially in
   known radar speed traps (e.g. most of Palo Alto especially Alma St.
   and Charleston, highway 17 through the mountains).  I highly recommend
   a good radar detector to anyone who drives, whether your foot is made
   of lead or feathers, since most urban speed limits in California are
   set well below the 85th percentile speed and are thus de facto speed

   from (George Wu) on 5 Nov 96:

   CHP has used radar for years on Highway 17.  They've recently added
   it to Highway 85 south of Mountain View due to a spate of recent head
   on collisions across the median strip.

Traffic court, traffic school, and DMV

22.Am I entitled to a jury trial for my traffic ticket?  Can I have counsel
   appointed at public expense?  Can I be sent to prison if found guilty?

   No, no, and no [Penal Code 19c].  This only applies to infractions, of
   course.  You get the book thrown at you, and all resulting rights and
   privileges, for misdemeanors and felonies whether or not committed behind
   the wheel.

23.Why can't I both argue my case in court and use traffic school to keep
   the points off my license if I lose?

   from J056600@LMSC5.IS.LMSC.LOCKHEED.COM (Tim Irvin) on 7 Apr 93:

   The only reason traffic school is even given as an option is to ease the
   burden on the courts.  If you could get traffic school by taking the case to
   court, the county would have no incentive to even offer it as an option.  It
   sucks, but they would eliminate the traffic school option before they would
   allow "ticket fighters" to go there, too.

   from (Jimmy Kuo) on 26 Mar 1993:

   When convicted, you are at the mercy of the court, within legal guidelines.
   You may ask to go to traffic school and it may still be granted.  But it is
   no longer a choice to be made by you rather it is now a choice the judge is
   to make.

   from (Michael Gerhard) on 7 Apr 93:

   A friend of mine got a speeding ticket in Fremont.  He tried to fight it (he
   WAS speeding) and after the officer testified, my friend took the stand and
   realized he wasn't going to win.  Instead of providing a defense, he asked
   the judge if he could change his plea to guilty and take traffic school.
   The judge thought it a bit odd, asked the officer if he had any objections,
   and the allowed my friend to take traffic school.

   It may not be a legislated action that if you fight then no traffic school.
   In my friends case, it was the discretion of the judge.

   from (David G. Paschich) on 7 Apr 93:

   Note that it's possible to end up having plead guilty with traffic school as
   your sentence and get the points on your record and everything.  This is
   _different_ from when you sign up for traffic school before the arraignment,
   trial, or anything and don't get the points on your public record.

24.I've heard about "comedy traffic schools".  Has anyone tried one of these?

   from (Sidney Markowitz) on 10 Jun 1993:

   I had such a good time with Improv, The Comedy Club Presents Traffic School
   last weekend, that I wanted to recommend it to the net.  The instructor was
   Steve Verret.  He claims to have been the most requested traffic school
   instructor in California five years in a row, and he was good enough that I
   can easily believe that.  Besides being a lot of fun and two dollars cheaper
   than any other school I called ($30 vs $32), he handed out to every student
   a free pass for two to Improv Comedy Club in San Francisco.

   The state lets you satisfy the traffic school requirement at any licensed
   traffic school in the state, though some counties only recognize schools on
   lists that they publish.  Improv, The Comedy Club Presents Traffic School
   has classes in several counties.  I don't know which locations Steve Verret
   teaches in addition to Santa Cruz where I took the class, but it would be
   worth asking for him.  Their number is 800-775-5233.

   Disclaimer:  I have no affiliation with Improv, The Comedy Club Presents
   Traffic School, other than as a satisfied graduate.

   from (George J Wu) on 3 Feb 1993:

   I too went to the Improv traffic school.  I went based on the experiences
   of two of my friends who said the school was "okay," not hilarious, but not

   I'd go a little further and say it was pretty good, as good as detention
   can get.  My instructor was Jim Coulter, and I strongly recommend him.  He
   is a little weird, but that's also the basis of his humour, so it makes for
   an enjoyable day.  Also, Jim can quote the CVC chapter and verse,
   literally.  He knows the text and section numbers by heart the way you and
   I remember our phone numbers.  The class is not only enjoyable, but Jim
   teaches you alot about driving in California and the law.

   Oh yeah, since their club up in the city closed, the traffic school now
   gives out passes to Rooster T. Feathers (at least for classes down here in
   the South Bay).

25.Do tickets dismissed by traffic school attendance appear on my DMV record?

   from jordan@MooreNet.COM (Jordan Hayes) on 29 oct 1991:

   Here's the scoop.  Note: this changed recently, and I'll note the
   differences between what's in effect now and what was before Jan 1, 1991.
   There are two versions of your DMV record, what I'll call the private one
   and the public one.  The private one has all of your transactions, since the
   establishment of your bits in their computer.  This is a "write-only" type
   of record.  Nothing ever gets removed (except for incorrect information :-).

   The public record is the one that you can get for a fee, and the one that
   your insurance company can get.  This has things dropped off after certain
   time limits that vary with the charge (for instance, DWI events stay
   longer).  In addition, if you go to traffic school, moving violations do not
   get transferred to your "public" record, and you don't get the "points"
   involved added to your record -- get a certain number of points in a certain
   amount of time (4 in a year, 6 in 2 years, 8 in 3 years [CVC 12810.5]) and
   you can lose your license; you may have to check up on DMV to make sure that
   they received your of certificate of traffic school completion.  The right
   time to do this is *before* your insurance comes up for renewal ...

   Starting January 1, 1991, if you get another moving violation within the
   first year after going to traffic school, the *original* violation gets
   moved from your private record to your public record (so that insurance
   companies can see it), but you don't get charged points for it.  In
   addition, you are ineligible for traffic school, so you'll now have two
   convictions on your record.

   from (Ed Evans) on 1 nov 1991:

   I've been told that if you go to traffic school, and if you get another
   moving violation within 18 months, then your original citation will appear
   on your DMV printout.  This information has been denied by DMV personnel.
   However, Gov. Deukmejian signed a bill to this effect before he left office.
   Before he signed the bill, the policy was for the citation to reappear if
   the violator violated within 12 months.

   Going to traffic school is an admission of guilt.  The violator's citation
   is not "forgiven" and it does not "disappear."  It is "masked."  This means
   that it is kept in an informal holding area (of a computer) forever.  To
   wit: a violation within 18 months of attending traffic school causes the
   citation to become "unmasked" and it remains unmasked until it has been
   presented to the world for its 36 month tour of DMV abstract access.  After
   36 months, all citations are masked and do not reappear, except for PD's on
   request, courts, and the National Security Agency on request.  This is
   important to know if you want to become a cop or need a top secret
   clearance.  Otherwise, it'll probably never matter, once the citation is

   There's a lot of folk wisdom passed out by traffic violator school
   instructors.  I know, I'm one of them.

   from optilink!walsh@uunet.uu.NET (Mark Walsh) on 16 Dec 91:

   Lesson:  make sure that your traffic school paperwork gets all of the way
   through the system.  I went through the traffic school, and sent the
   paperwork in via certified mail, etc.  A few months later, I was at the DMV,
   and found out that I had a warrant out for my arrest!  My paperwork had
   fallen through the cracks.

26.Do out-of-state tickets appear on your California DMV printout, and
   can insurance companies can find this info out if they don't?

   from gordon@TASVAX.NSWSES.NAVY.MIL (Gordon C. Zaft) on 15 Nov 1991:
   Well, it happened to me!  I had two tickets from Texas and one from New
   Mexico show up on DMV record last year (they were from almost 3 years ago!
   I don't know why the delay) and my insurance went up $200!

   from rezal@leland.Stanford.EDU (Rezal Adzly Abdul Rahman) on 19 Nov 1991:
   I friend of mine got a speeding ticket in Texas, two years ago, and when he
   recently went to get a DMV printout for the insurance company, it was there!

   from wab@worf.Rational.COM (Bill Baker) on 23 Nov 1991:
   This is called "reciprocity".  Basically what it means is that if you don't
   pay an out of state ticket, the DMV of the state issuing your license agrees
   to put it on your record and charge you for it when you go to renew your
   license, the idea being that the other state will do the same for tickets
   issued to their drivers in your home state.  I've had a lot of experience
   with this.

   Most states do not have reciprocity with every other state.  Most states
   usually have reciprocity with neighbor states.  However, home states can be
   pretty lax about applying out of state penalties.  I had my Washington
   license "revoked" by California, Oregon, and North Dakota, but the Wash. DMV
   renewed my license without complaint (as long as I paid those in state
   tickets).  I also once tried to skip out on a bunch of Wash. tickets by
   applying for a new license in Oregon.  I told the clerk I'd never had a
   license, but when he ran my ID on the computer he came back with a list of
   my many outstanding Washington tickets.  Then he gave me a copy of the
   written test and told me to return it to him when I was done.  I mean, he
   *knew* I was lying but apparently that didn't bar you from getting an Oregon
   license.  Sometimes state rivalries can have weird fallout.

   You can probably find out from DMV what states California has reciprocity
   agreements with.  Nevada is almost certainly one of them.  I'm not familiar
   enough with CA DMV to know how seriously they enforce reciprocity.  However,
   whether or not your home state cares about out of state tickets, the state
   issuing the ticket never forgets.  If you get stopped in that state again,
   they will almost certainly haul you to the local hoosegow and keep you there
   until you pay the massive fine.

   Insurance companies are a much bigger menace.  They get data from
   everywhere.  It's very hard to hide tickets from them.  However, most states
   can't release a record of a ticket until the ticket is actually paid,
   because you aren't officially guilty until you've paid the ticket or had a
   "trial".  My insurance company never knew about my out of state tickets as
   long as I didn't pay them.  Of course, had I been caught a second time in
   one of those states and been "convicted" of driving on a "revoked" license
   with unpaid tickets, my insurance rating would have become terminal

   The bottom line is, if you're caught speeding next door, you'd better pay it
   because there's a good chance you'll get stopped again in that state, which
   would be a disaster.  If you're caught out in Podunk State (say North
   Dakota) and you don't expect to be back more than once or twice in your
   lifetime, you can take a chance on skipping out on the ticket.  Remember,
   though, that the rural states are wise to this.  They usually direct you to
   drive to the next state patrol office and pay the ticket immediately.  They
   may follow you to make sure you do.

   from optilink!walsh@uunet.uu.NET (Mark Walsh) on 16 Dec 91:
   I got screwed by the city of Berkeley early last year.  The police officer
   was very polite, and he said that the ticket was merely a fine like a
   parking ticket, and it would not go on my DMV record.  Guess what?  My
   insurance went up!  When I talked to my agent, he said that their (Farmer's)
   computers talk to many local computers, and everybody shares info with
   everybody else, and that the DMV was probably the only bureaucracy that did
   not know about the ticket.

27.Does the DMV find out about tickets received from Federal authorities?

   from (Stanley Tsu) on 19 Feb 1993:

   OK, here's the scoop.  I called the Denver Office of the US District Court
   (800/366-5245) and the woman I spoke to said that the Feds do not give
   traffic violation data to Cal DMV for speeding violations, provided that one
   pays the collateral in a timely manner.  She said that if I wanted to
   contest the ticket she could set up a court appearance date over the phone.
   Protests in the Golden Gate National Regional Area (GGNRA) are handled at
   450 Golden Gate Ave, San Fran.

28.Did you know you'll soon lose the right to a trial for parking tickets?

   from (Melville Capps) Tue Dec 28 14:49:14 1993


   Assembly Bill 408 changed the nature of contesting parking or standing
   ordinance violations from an infraction trial in municipal court to an
   administrative review by the same agency that issued the ticket.  In a
   criminal infraction trial the accused is afforded all their constitu-
   tional rights to Due Process, and the 5th amendment right not to be com-
   pelled to testify against himself, whereas in an administrative review
   the accused is not afforded these rights.  Parking and standing viola-
   tions are now subject to a civil penalty, and a special, limited civil
   procedure, provided in the statute, for contesting a citation.  This
   bill went into effect July 1, 1993.

   The bill was clearly designed by the legislature to increase revenues
   through parking fines, instead of increasing revenues through taxa-
   tion.  From talking to various city officials in San Diego County I
   have learned that this bill is part of a plan to eliminate as many
   types of cases as possible from the courts.  Also I learned that the
   state has been presenting this to the cities as a way that they can
   increase their revenues.

   Since A.B. 408 went into effect, the City of San Diego has raised its
   parking fines 50% and they even went to the trouble and expense of
   plugging up the nickel and dime slots on their parking meters to in-
   crease the number of tickets that they could write.  The City of
   Oceanside has also increased its parking fines, and I am sure that
   many other cities have increased their parking fine amounts as well.

   The legislature "determined" that handling parking tickets in court
   was a great burden on the court system, but that claim is false.  For
   example in 1990 in the north county judicial district of San Diego
   County there were over 200,000 cases of all types heard.  Of these
   about 115,000 were traffic tickets, but only 618 were contested park-
   ing tickets.

   The legislature "determined" that the existing procedure for contest-
   ing a parking ticket was a burden on the motorist, and that a criminal
   trial was not needed to insure a fair hearing.  This claim is also
   false, as the new procedure is more burdensome, complicated, and ex-
   pensive for the motorist as it requires more steps.  Even people who
   are innocent will tend to pay the fine, because of the time off from
   work and expense required to contest a ticket.


   1. The same agency that wrote the parking ordinance, that issued the
   citation, and that will profit from the fine, is the only agency that
   a person can contest a parking ticket before.  There is only a slight
   possibility that the accused can get a fair and impartial hearing un-
   der this system.  The accused does not get a trial before a judge.

   2.  In the "administrative review", the accused is presumed to be
   guilty if the issuing agency has a copy of the parking ticket and
   registration information from the DMV.  This is the only information
   that the issuing agency needs to present.  Unlike a criminal infrac-
   tion trial where the state has to prove the guilt of the accused, in
   this "administrative review" the accused has to prove his innocence.
   This "presumption of guilt" is un-American, and is the Napoleonic sys-
   tem of law that is used in Mexico, South America, and some European

   3.  In the "administrative review", the issuing officer does not have
   to appear to testify or to be questioned.

   4. The owner of the vehicle is jointly liable with the driver for the
   parking ticket; although, an exemption is given to bona fide leasing
   or rental companies.  This means that the owner of the vehicle is
   going to have to pay the fine in order to renew his registration, and
   his only recourse may be to file a legal action against the operator
   of the vehicle.  This is not an equal application of the law when pri-
   vate owners are held responsible for another person's actions, yet
   rental companies are exempt.

   5. The issuing agencies can get an automatic civil judgment against
   the owner of the vehicle merely by paying the court filing fee ($182
   which of course is added to the amount the owner has to pay).  The is-
   suing agency doesn't have to present any evidence to get this judg-
   ment.  The agency can then seize a Citizen's property, garnish wages,
   or use any other civil method to collect.

   6. The procedure for the "administrative review" is not clearly
   specified in the bill.  The bill provides that the initial request to
   contest the parking ticket can be made by telephone, mail, or in per-
   son.  This results in an internal investigation the results of which
   must be mailed to the person who contested the ticket.  Next is the
   "administrative review", where the accused must state in writing his
   or her reasons why the ticket was in error.  The bill gives the person
   the option of having the actual review conducted in person before the
   examiner or by mail.

   The administrative review procedure is going to be different in each
   jurisdiction, and from what I have found out so far in San Diego
   County many of the jurisdictions are not even planning to follow the
   statute.  They are going to require people to go to some office in
   person during business hours to request the initial investigation, or
   they are not going to allow in person administrative reviews before
   the examiner.

   7.  If the accused does not like the results of the administrative
   review, then with a $25 filing fee, a new trial or so called "trial de
   novo" can be heard in municipal court.  The municipal court is sup-
   posed to use the same revised civil procedure as in the administrative
   review, and the entire record from the issuing agency can be admitted
   as evidence.  This is not a "new trial."  The admittance into evidence
   of the issuing agencies file means that the accused is having to
   sacrifice his 5th amendment rights against self-incrimination.  Also
   since the issuing officer will not have to be in court, there still is
   no way to rebut the issuing agency's case.  This is no trial.

   8.  The examiners for the administrative reviews are not even required
   to be lawyers, let alone judges, and so do not have the ability to in-
   terpret issues of law.  The accused will have to take the additional
   time and expense to appeal any case that require a legal determination
   to the municipal court.  But the person must be very careful not to
   incriminate his or herself in the administrative hearing.

   9. The City of Oceanside is acting as the processing agency for vir-
   tually all north county cities.  The San Diego Mediation Center has
   been hired to provide the administrative hearings.  A Citizen who
   wants to contest a parking ticket must a pay in addition to the fine a
   $22.50 fee to get an administrative hearing!  Of course there is
   precedent for this:  It was customary in England for the condemned to
   tip the executioner.


29.How much insurance must a driver carry?

   from the Spring 1991 DMV California Driver Handbook:

   and OWNER of a motor vehicle to maintain financial responsibility.  There
   are four forms of financial responsibility:

   o Coverage by a motor vehicle liability insurance policy [of at least
   o A deposit of $35,000 with DMV.
   o A bond for the same amount (although generally bonds are unavailable).
   o DMV approved self-insurance.

30.Do insurance companies have to be licensed in CA?  How can I tell if one is?

   from (Otha Stubblefield III) on Oct 24 1992:

   Today's Los Angeles Times (10/23/92) carries an article on unlicensed
   insurers in its business section on page D1.  This article does not apply
   solely to car insurance.  Summary:

   The unlicensed insurance business is booming in California, with sales
   increasing by a factor of 30 since 1988.  However, complaints have also
   increased by a factor of 100.  Many consumers are finding that they have
   been paying claims to nothing more than a PO Box operation, and it is almost
   impossible to have a claim processed, especially if the company has
   surreptitiously folded.  Insurers using state-licensed agencies are
   protected from insolvency by a fund.  Also, the state has no power over
   unlicensed companies, that are often found to be based outside of the U.S.
   State law prohibits unlicensed insurers from selling in the state, unless
   the policyholder cannot find similar coverage from a licensed carrier.  Only
   certain brokers (surplus-line carriers) are authorized by the state to sell
   out-of-state policies, and that those brokers should be checking these
   companies solvency.  The State does acknowledge, though, that some people
   are not checking due to negligence or that they just don't care.  You can
   find out if a certain carrier is ok by calling the Ca Insurance Consumer
   line at 800-927-HELP.

   End Summary:

   The article does not mention the penalties for using one of these companies,
   namely suspension of your license if you are found to be using one for the
   financial responsibility requirement (liability insurance).  The state and
   DMV will consider you uninsured for the period that you were using them.
   They also do not mention that a companies' status (licensed to unlicensed)
   may change without notification to the consumer.

31.Can my insurer legally ask me for my roommates' names and license numbers?

   from (Bill Karwin) on 18 Mar 1993:

   I called 1-800-927-HELP and the answer is yes, the insurance company does
   have a right to ask for the id's of the housemates if they are to be
   occasional drivers.  The only alternative is to exclude these housemates
   from coverage, by providing their names (not their driver's license #).

32.What's the net.recommendation for motorcycle insurance? (George Wu) received the following replies to this request
   of 30 sep 1991:
   Having just purchased my first bike (Yamaha SRX 250), I now need to get
   insurance.  Since it's not worth that much, I'm just going to get liability.
   CSAA (California AAA) must think motorcycles are dangerous or something,
   since they won't insure it.

   from (Andy Philips):
   McGraw Hill Insurance Services: 415-780-4841
   Call Melody x3021 and tell her I sent you, she may or may not remember me.

   from georgeb@zimmer.CSUFresno.EDU (George Barbary):
   The best deal I got on insurance was from Mcgraw-Hill.  There is a startup
   fee of approximately $40. Then the premium was $86 for six months. I had
   minimum coverage.  This rate is for Fresno. It may vary in the Bay area.

   from (Ken chaney):
   State Farm is reputed to have "best" rates for single males under 30.  I
   heard this from a AAA agent, who gave me a quote.  Don't know why they won't
   give you one.  Perhaps I'm mistaken and the quote was for my car.  At any
   rate, it was higher than the premium I pay State Farm (single male age 25).

   from karen@brahms.AMD.COM (Karen Black):
   I've insured my SR250 (and GB500) through State Farm.  When I started, I was
   paying about $250 for 100/50/100, uninsured motorist, comp and collision.
   Now I'm in State Farm Mutual and paying $160 for liability and uninsured
   motorist.  I've been very happy with State Farm.

   from (Walter Dryfoos):
   I'd suggest that you give Coupin Insurance on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland a
   call.  They always found me the best deal on my bikes.  They're an
   independent agent, so they have lots of options.

   from (Kevin Tiene):
   I am about to buy a bike (Honda Hawk GT 650) and got the same response from
   CSAA.  They recommended getting insurance through the dealer.

   from brad (Brad Whitaker):
   Marketing Direct        (800)   729-2537        MotorCycle Insurance

   from (George Buzsaki):
   Mike Felder Insurance (1-800-7-CYCLES) He specializes in motorcycle
   liability insurance and is a good guy to boot.

   from doning@ocf.Berkeley.EDU (Donald Ng):
   I got the lowest quotes for insurance from Mike Felder in Concord.  He's at
   1-800-7-CYCLES, and gives discounts for taking the MSF courses.

   from (George Wu):
   Based on what the net recommended, I called Mike Felder and McGraw
   Insurance.  For just liability, Felder quoted $157.  McGraw quoted $87.  I
   went with McGraw, naturally.  Personally, I think the $157 is an error.  I
   definitely stated I wanted liability only, but I bet that's not what he

   After I passed the MSF course, I called McGraw Insurance back to try and get
   a discount.  They don't offer one for the MSF course.  The only safety
   discount they offer is for "good drivers."  One is a "good driver" if one
   has held an M1 license for at least three years and has zero or one points
   on his or her license.


33.What's the state of Los Angeles' freeways after the Northridge earthquake?
   If I'm driving down from Northern California, should I take I-5 as usual,
   or is there now a faster route?

   from (George J Wu) on 7 March 1994:

   The best source of current highway information is CalTrans' touchtone
   hotline.  From a touchtone telephone, call them at 1-800-GAS-ROAD.  Then
   punch in the number of the highway in which you are interested, followed
   by a '#' key.  

34.When you see a sign "Litter removal next two miles by organization XXX",
   what exactly does XXX do?

   from rog@Ingres.COM (Roger Taranto) on 18 Jul 1992:

   They are required by CalTrans to clean up their section of the highway at
   least quarterly.  They are told to park near the highway (on some side
   street or something, not on the side of the highway), and they have to give
   CalTrans and the CHP notice a certain amount of time before they go out
   there.  They are given safety instructions before they go.  Finally, there
   are two types of people you see picking up litter along the side of the
   road:  those with *white* hats are part of some group doing litter removal;
   those with *orange* hats are doing "community service", e.g., someone who
   got sentenced to do community service.  Alternatively, sponsors can hire
   cleanup crews.


35.How much are the gasoline taxes in CA?

   14.1 cents Federal tax + 17.0 cents State tax + sales tax (up to 7.75


36.Can I get a ticket for a traffic violation while I'm riding a bicycle?

   from walsh@optilink.COM (Mark Walsh) 24 May 93:

   Yes.  Go read CVC 21200 through 21211.  Section 21200 basically states that
   cyclists have all of the same privileges and responsibilities that other
   vehicles have.

   from (David Cortesi) on 22 Jun 93:

   There is not a lot of enforcement of cycling violations, which is one of the
   reasons you see a lot of bicyclists breaking rules.  However, in a few towns
   there is strict enforcement of traffic laws on bicyclists, among them
   Woodside, CA, where cyclists are regularly ticketed for failure to stop at
   stop signs.

37.Will such bicycle traffic convictions go on my DMV driving record?

   from walsh@optilink.COM (Mark Walsh) 24 May 93:

   Contrary to myth, these offenses can and will go on your California DMV
   record.  I know a fellow who suffered a dramatic increase in his insurance
   rates after having been cited for running stop signs on his bike twice
   within a year.

   In rec.bicycles.soc, Bob Becker writes:

   Even with a driver's license, a bicycle violation shouldn't appear on your
   record.  From the CVC section 1803 (b):

   The following violations are not required to be reported under subdivision
   (a) of this section:
   (7) Violations for which a person was cited as a pedestrian or while
       operating a bicycle

   If they do show up on your record, contact the DMV and get them removed.  I
   know you can, I have done this.

38.I had to slow down because of a bicyclist and then cross the center line to
   pass.  Aren't those damn fool lycra-butts supposed to ride on the
   sidewalk/in the gutter/in the bike lane/etc?

   from (David Cortesi) on 15 Jun 93:

   Bicyclists are "vehicle operators" in almost every sense under the vehicle
   code.  They are not restricted to particular lanes or parts of the road,
   except that when passing another vehicle, preparing for a left turn, or to
   avoid unsafe conditions, they should ride as far to the right "as
   practicable" [CVC 21202(a)].  On a section of highway that carries traffic
   in one direction only and has two or more marked traffic lanes, bicyclists
   may ride as near to the left as practicable [CVC 21202(b)].  They are also
   subject to the law on two-lane highways that slow traffic must pull over,
   wherever sufficient area for a safe turnout exists, when 5 or more vehicles
   are behind it and where passing is unsafe [CVC 21656].

   So if the cyclist was riding as far to the right as practicable for the road
   surface conditions and holding up less than 5 vehicles, he or she is within
   the law, and motorists are responsible for passing the cyclist in a way that
   is safe for all.

39.Oh?  So what are these bike lanes for, then?

   from (David Cortesi) on 22 Jun 93:

   Primarily for cars not to drive in.  The law says cars cannot drive in bike
   lanes, except to park where permitted, to enter or leave a roadway, or to
   prepare for a turn within 200 feet of an intersection [CVC 21309].

   Cyclists are supposed to use bike lanes but they are not locked into them.
   CVC 21208 says:

      Whenever a bicycle lane has been established on a roadway pursuant to
      Section 21207, any person operating a bicycle upon the roadway at a speed
      less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction shall
      ride within the bicycle lane, except that such person may move out of the
      lane under any of the following situations:
      (1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle, vehicle, or pedestrian
          within the lane or about to enter the lane if such overtaking and
          passing cannot be done safely within the lane.
      (2) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private
          road or driveway.
      (3) When reasonable necessary to leave the bicycle lane to avoid debris
          or other hazardous conditions.

   A lot of cyclists prefer to stay in the traffic lanes because traffic keeps
   them swept clear of glass, tree litter, kids on skateboards...  Seriously,
   cycling activists like John Forrester (author of Effective Cycling) argue
   that bike lanes are a unsafe and ineffective, and that governments would do
   better trying to teach cyclists and drivers how better to share the roads.

   From Jym Dyer ( on 1 Nov 1993:

   Forrester's argument about bike lanes is based on statistical
   data showing lots of bike/auto collisions when autos running
   parallel with a bike lane make a right turn at an intersection.
   California's law about merging into the bicycle lane before
   making a right turn would appear to be an attempt to address
   this problem.  Unfortunately this isn't made at all clear.

40.One of those gangs of a dozen neon-shirted lycra-butts was taking up a whole
   lane the other day, don't they have to ride single file?

   There's no CVC section requiring it (see FAQ on lane sharing).  On the other
   hand, some people (including police officers, acting in their official
   capacities) interpret the requirement to keep as far to the right "as
   practicable" of CVC 21202(a) to require bicycles to ride single file.  Under
   this interpretation, unless passing, turning, avoiding road debris, etc.
   (see quote of CVC 21208 above), the cyclist on the left is not as far right
   as practicable.

41.Okay, so what do I do to get around a bicyclist and be on my way?

   from geoff@FICUS.CS.UCLA.EDU (Geoff Kuenning) on Thu, 2 Dec 93:

   If the cyclist is not traveling in the same direction as you, treat
   him or her as you would any other vehicle.  Be careful about
   estimating speeds.  Many experienced cyclists (see below) travel much
   faster than you might expect.  More than once, I have had drivers turn
   in front of me because they thought they had plenty of time, but did
   not.  When in doubt, wait (assuming, of course, that the cyclist is
   the one with the right-of-way).  This is especially important if you
   are traveling in the same direction and making a right turn soon;  you
   don't want to turn right in front of the cyclist because you misjudged
   her speed.

   If you're traveling in the same direction, things are a bit more
   complex.  I almost hate to say it, but the first thing you should
   probably do is to decide whether the cyclist is an expert.
   Experienced cyclists should be treated a bit differently.  The best
   clue to experience is riding style, of course, though this can be hard
   to observe quickly.  Experienced cyclists are smoother and ride a
   straighter line.  Inexperienced cyclists tend to weave and make
   unpredictable moves.

   A quicker, though somewhat less reliable, way to judge experience is
   to look at the rider's clothes.  If they're not a "lycra-butt," it's
   doubtful that they're an expert. If they have Lycra shorts, but are
   wearing a T-shirt, they're less likely to be experienced.  Gloves,
   shoes, and helmet are other less-reliable clues.  If the cyclist is in
   full regalia and riding in a straight line, they are probably
   experienced.  But all of these are only guidelines, of course.

   Once you've judged experience, decide how and when to pass.  If the
   cyclist is an expert, let him or her guide you.  If he's out in the
   middle of your lane, it's probably because he doesn't want you to pass
   at that point.  I frequently move out into the traffic lane in
   high-speed sections where I know some bad road is coming up, so that I
   won't be forced to swerve into traffic suddenly.  A polite cyclist
   will also use hand signals to indicate that you should stay back in
   dangerous situations.  By the same token, polite (and careful)
   cyclists will also use hand signals to let you know when it's safe to
   overtake them.

   For inexperienced riders, use your own judgment to select a safe spot,
   waiting if necessary.  A safe spot means that there is enough room to
   give a wide berth, there are no obvious hazards that might cause the
   cyclist to swerve suddenly, and there is no cross traffic.  Of these,
   the wide berth is the most important: you want to have enough room
   that you won't run over the rider if he suddenly falls over (which
   actually does happen from time to time).  I consider half a car width
   minimal for an unrequested pass (this does not apply if an expert
   cyclist explicitly motions you to come by).

   Finally, when you do pass, PASS QUICKLY.  I cannot overemphasize the
   importance of this latter point.  It is not safe (for you insurance
   bill as well as for the cyclist) to drive next to a bicycle.  Don't
   come barrelling up at 60 mph and surprise the poor fellow at a
   distance of 6 inches, but don't pass at a differential of 2 or even 5
   mph either.  Use your superior power and acceleration to get around
   him and on your way.  This is especially important if you have been
   signalled to pass, since there is often only a very short section
   where it is safe, and the cyclist is trying to help you out by
   getting you on your way quickly.

42.I'm a slow, occasional cyclist and I feel a lot safer riding the way I walk,
   against the traffic.  Is that OK?

   from (David Cortesi) on 22 Jun 93:

   Absolutely not, because as a vehicle operator you should ride with the other
   vehicles, on the right.  Besides being legal, you are safer on the right.
   Two of many reasons:  A driver entering from a side street or driveway
   always looks to the left before pulling out.  If you are riding on the wrong
   side, you approach toward the back of the driver's head and he or she is
   likely to pull out into you.  Plus, when you meet a cyclist riding 20 mph
   toward you in the bike lane, which way do you dodge?  Should you pass on the
   right or the left?  It's a sticky situation all too likely to end with a
   head-on crash.

   From Jym Dyer ( on 1 Nov 1993:

   Statistically speaking, it is much safer to ride with auto traffic than
   against it.  I myself feel a lot safer (and have managed to avoid being
   hit) by using a rear-view mirror.  My favorite type is a small wide-angle
   mirror, the type that attaches to eyeglasses or a helmet.


For further information . . .

43.What are some useful phone numbers and/or addresses?

   (Some of these apply only to particular areas of the state.  The purpose of
   this information is to show the kinds of services that are available;
   consult your phone directory for the local corresponding agency.  Additions
   to this list are welcome, of course.)

   800-427-ROAD  (try 415-557-3755 from out-of-state) CalTrans' highway
      information number:  Call from a touch-tone phone, punch in the highway
      number, and a recording will tell you about current and scheduled
      closures, chain requirements, and traffic restrictions.  As far as I
      can tell, it gets updated as whenever conditions change.  Drive safely!
      --from ajh@Xenon.Stanford.EDU (Alan Hu) on 10 dec 92

   714-665-6970  Orange County Household Hazardous Waste Hotline, recording
      for information on sites that accept waste motor oil, antifreeze, etc.,
      from households of Orange County residents

   800-EXHAUST   Bay Area Air Quality Management District smoking vehicle
      program complaint line
   800-CUT-SMOG  South Coast Air Quality Management District
      to report smoke-emitting (for longer than 10 seconds) vehicle (note
      license number, make, model, date, time, and location).  The AQMD doesn't
      ask for your name.  They mail the vehicle owner a letter stating that
      their vehicle was observed smoking and explaining the CA exhaust
      emissions laws.  They are asked to repond to the letter.  The Street
      Smart column of the LA times on 15 March, 1993, reports that according
      to AQMD spokesperson Paula Levy, there is a 25 percent of letter
      recipients reply that they have repaired their vehicle.

   800-745-SAFE  "Safety Belt Safe USA", Inglewood, CA, a non-profit group
      To report a driver having children in the vehicle who were not retrained
      by seat belts or within a car seat, call the 800 number.  They will give
      you a form to fill out to report the offending motorist.  Send the form
      back to them and they will get it to the Highway Patrol, who will then
      send the registered owner a very stern letter of warning.
      -- from (Nancy Feagans) on 18 may 1993

   800-927-HELP  CA Insurance Consumer Line (see question about insurers
      having to be licensed in CA)

   714-724-2000  CalTrans, Orange County:  to report potholes
   714-754-5334  Costa Mesa Transportation Services:  to report malfunctioning
      traffic signals (note place, time, and situation)
   213-623-6533  for info on handling LA City parking ticket by mail
   DMV Revenue Services, Mail Station D148, 2415 1st Ave., Sacramento, CA 95818
      to report expired tags, or out-of-state plates that have overstayed their

   800-952-5210  California Bureau of Automotive Repair

44.What are some recommended readings?

   (originally compiled by;
    some updates from a post by (Peter V. Mason) on 2
    Oct 92)
   (if you would like to maintain this list, please Reply!)

   Beating the Radar Rap, Dale Smith & John Tomerlin, Bonus Books, Chicago,
   1990, $15.
   How to fight a radar-clocked speeding ticket in court.  (Annotation
   summarized from Car & Driver, 2/91.)  (stevea)

   Don't Get Taken Every Time, Remar Sutton, Penguin, city?, 1991?, ~$8?.
   This book pulls no punches in its expose' of car dealers' tactics on car
   buyers.  Fictional examples offer lessons.  Also a step by step guide for
   buying cars.  (stevea)

   Fight Your Ticket, David W. Brown, Nolo Press, Berkeley, 1991, $21.95,
   I found it under "traffic violations" on the library index computer.  Dewey
   number is 345.0247 BRO 1991, ISBN 0-87337-132-1.  It's obviously specialized
   to California, but there are some pretty good general topics on how to act
   when stopped (polite, non-committal, don't make the cop's job easy by
   admitting anything). Check out all the facts you can and write down the
   entire incident for use in court.  One of his claims is that the cop is
   trained to decide whether to give you a ticket before he gets out of his
   car, so fawning or apologizing will get you nowhere. Another point is to
   read the vehicle code very carefully, because each code section requires
   that several elements be established to convict you.  Brown also discusses
   out-of-state tickets and lists the states that are in the Driver's License
   Compact and cross report-violations.  Incidentally, Brown verifies that you
   can't be convicted of a speed violation using radar measurement unless there
   has been a survey within 5 years. (pvmason)

   Nolo is a major self-help legal publisher in California and Fight Your
   Ticket is considered by many to be *the* bible to contesting traffic
   tickets.  (georgewu)

   The Safe Motorist's Guide to Speedtraps, John Tomerlin & Dru Whitledge,
   Bonus Books, Chicago, 1991, $24 "RADAR" members, $31 nonmembers,
   800-448-5170, also available in some bookstores.
   For the 50 states: Hwy Patrol radio frequencies, fines, ticket info
   exchanges with other states, speed traps, more.  (Annotation summarized
   from Car & Driver, 3/92.)  (stevea)

   A Speeder's Guide to Avoiding Tickets, Sgt. James M. Eagan, Avon Books, New
   York, 1990, $5.
   How to avoid getting caught; what to do before, during, and after being
   pulled over.  Mildly amusing and worth the price.  (stevea)

   from bill@Celestial.COM (Bill Campbell) on 28 Sep 1992:
   The Ticket Book, Rod Dornsife, ISBN 0-9601950-1-7, published by
   The Ticket Book, Inc., PO Box 1087, La Jolla, Ca 92038
   I don't know whether this is still available.  I got mine when it was handed
   out to all the participants in the 1979 Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea
   Memorial Trophy Dash (the last real Cannonball).

   Traffic Court - How to Win, by Atty. James Glass, Allenby Press, Arcadia,
   CA, 1988.  Claims to be nationwide in application. (pvmason)

   How to Win in Traffic Court:  The Non-Lawyers Guide to Successfully
   Defending Traffic Violations, by Phil Bello, J.D., Major Market Books,
   Gibbsboro, NJ, 1989.  Also claims to be nationwide. (pvmason)
   The book may be ordered from the publisher, Major
   Market Books, 883 Cooper Landing Rd., Ste.-211, Cherry Hill, NJ  08002,
   for $16.00, postpaid.

   from (Dana Uehara) on 16 Feb 93:
   _Talk Your Way Out Of A Traffic Ticket_.  (Not sure who the author is --
   something [Jim?] Kelley).  Unfortunately I don't have the book with me, so I
   have no other information, but I do know it's available in paperback.  It
   should be useful since the person who wrote it is (was?) a CHP patrol
   officer.  Synopsis:  Highlights what to and what *not* to do/say if you get
   pulled over.  Also outlines what types of recourse you have if you do get
   ticketed, under what conditions you can request Traffic School, and also
   gives some guidelines as to testing yourself as to whether or not you can
   (or *should*) be driving, particularly if you've had too much to drink.

45. Can I actually get traffic conditions over the Internet?

    from (Karl Geiger) on 17 Jun 1994:

    Way cool...realtime traffic information for the San Diego freeway net
    is available from

    Clickable maps aren't complete.  Text/data tables work and show
    traffic (vehicles per hour) and lane speed.

CHP radios and scanners

46.What is a "CHiPs detector"?  What's the complete story on CHP radios?

   from (Chuck Fry):

   That's right.  Many CHP cars are equipped with repeaters so that when the
   officers get out of their cars, their walkie-talkies need only reach the car
   instead of the base station.  The CHiPs Detector (tm) takes advantage of the
   fact that the CHiPpies rarely turn off the repeater when they're IN the car.
   Note that the CHP may change this frequency at any time, although they're
   not likely to.

   The disadvantages are that you just know at least one CHiPpie is in the
   area, not how close, what they're doing, or whether they're after you; and
   there's no signal transmitted from the repeater when the base station is
   silent.  So it's hardly foolproof. (Mike Morris) posted on 12 oct 1991:

   The following info was compiled from several sources, none of which have
   1st-hand knowledge of the new CHP radios, but what I have been able to put
   together seems to agree.  So with that caveat, ...

   The older Motorola Micor mobile radios had "mobile extenders" by GE.  These
   extenders were 1/4 watt transmitting units that repeated the audio from the
   42mhz CHP mobile radio to 154.905mhz.  The mobile extender time-sliced the
   channel to transmit for roughly 9/10 second and receive for 1/10 of a second
   to see if the officer was replying.  Hence the "yakyakyak-chuff-yakyakyak-
   chuff-yakyakyak-chuff-..." sound of the repeated traffic on the 154mhz
   channel.  There was a writeup of the single-channel time-slicing technique
   in a ham radio magazine back in the early 70s, and the technique has taken
   off tremendously.  It has mostly been used to allow single-channel
   radio-to-telephone interconnects called simplex autopatches (because they
   use one channel - a "simplex" channel.)

   Anyway the mobile extender technique works very well, and allows the officer
   to use a relatively low power high-band hand-held to communicate with the
   dispatcher via the > 100w low-band mobile radio in his/her patrol car with
   very little trouble.

   A low-band hand-held would have to use a 6' antenna to be resonant, or a
   "rubber duckie" over a foot long.  And the hand-held couldn't have enough RF
   power to reach the dispatch center in 99% of the state.  Hence a 150mhz
   handheld (where a 18" antenna is the norm, and a "rubber duck" is < 9") and
   a mobile extender.

   A bit of history:
   The bid for mobile radios was won by Motorola around 10 years ago.  The
   mobile extenders were an afterthought, and that bid/contract was won by GE.
   The user interface was a simple on/off switch, and the state radio shop
   people mounted it in the Motorola control head.  It was a toggle switch
   labeled with a Dymo tape "repeat enable/disable" (or "extender on/off" or
   "portable on/off").

   The average officer soon discovered that leaving the extender switch in the
   "on" position worked just fine.  They turned off the hand-held to shut off
   the "repeater", not realizing that the mobile side of the extender was still
   on.  Probably 99% of the CHP officers left it on for the entire shift.  With
   the almost constant activity on the CHP dispatch channels, this 154.905mhz
   vehicle transmitter behaved like a 1/4w beacon, providing between 1/4 to 1
   mile notification of the location of a patrol car.

   Now the spoiler: The CHP is replacing (has replaced here in my area) _all_
   of their Motorola Micor/GE extender radio packages.  The new radios are all
   GE, with CHP-designed control groups.  (The state Red Cross got 90% of the
   radios for the 47.42 - 47.62 freqs.  A few of them went to other state
   agencies, like the Office of Emergency Services).  The 1991 Southern
   California edition of the "Police Call" frequency listing has a nice writeup
   on the CHP-designed control groups, as I remember.  They even got 90% of it

   The new design forces the officers to disable the extender when they are in
   the patrol car.  Listening to 154.905 while mobile now just tells you where
   a CHP car is _stopped_, with the officer out of the car, as opposed to
   before when it would tell you where a stopped or a moving one was...

   Here is the frequency map of the CHP hand-helds as I have it.

   F1: 154.905  with the primary tone.  (NOTE 1)
   F2:  same         1st alternate tone
   F3:  same         2nd alternate tone
   F4: 154.920 (CLEMARS 1) - Base side of CLEMARS
   F5: 154.935 (CLEMARS 2) - Mobile/Portable CLEMARS
   F6: 156.075 (CALCORD) (NOTE 2)
   F7: 155.475 (CLEMARS 3 / NALEMARS) (NOTE 3)

   Abbreviations: CLEMARS: California Law Enforcement Mutual Radio System.
                  CALCORD: California Coordination - a statewide "on-scene"
                  NALEMARS: National Law Enforcement.... A federal version
                            of CLEMARS.

   Note 1: With the old hand-helds (2 freqs - 154.905 and 154.920) there was no
   way that two units from different areas (i.e. different dispatch
   frequencies) could have their extenders operational at an out-of-vehicle
   scene -- when an officer transmitted, both mobiles would be brought up.

   the remainder of Note 1 explanation is from the post of
   (Scott O'Connell) on 14 oct 1991:

   The receiver of the extender has an attenuator making a low wattage HT
   usable for only a short distance (typically less than 50yds).  To make sure
   there is only one extender being used within close proximity each vehicle
   extender sends a short burst tone to see if others are active.  If it is
   within range of another active extender it doesn't turn on at all.  The HT
   is then using the other vehicle radio (the one that was already turned on).

   Now for the PL explanation.  There are three channels on CHP HT's that
   relate directly to the extender.  Channel 1 (also called PP or Person to
   Person) does not transmit any tone nor does it decode.  It is meant for HT
   to HT use.  Channel 2 has a subaudible tone on transmit allowing the officer
   to talk to dispatch. (ie, transmits on the input freq of the lowband radio)
   Channel 3 has a different subaudible tone on transmit allowing the officer
   to talk to other officers. (ie, transmits on the output of the lowband
   radio) All channels are carrier squelch on the receive so that PP can be
   heard regardless of other traffic.

   I hope this clears up why there are three 154.905 channels on the HT's.

   Note 2: 156.075 is also the Ship TX side of Marine channel 61 (paired with
   160.675 Ship RX).  I understand some re-thinking of the use of this
   frequency is going on.  It seems to be pretty useless in coastal areas.

   Note 3: 155.475 I have been told that this channel has multiple PL tones.  I
   have also been told that the CHP handheld is 10 freq - capable.  Maybe this
   channel has multiple appearances like F1-F2-F3.  More info is needed.

   Another rehash of the low band channels is in the works since LA County
   Sheriffs is moving to 800 or 900 mhz.  The CHP has acquired all of the 39mhz
   LASO channels and is slowly moving to change all of the low band dispatch
   operation to full repeat.  My sources do not know if the mobiles will be
   transmitting on 39mhz and listening on 42mhz or vice versa.  It does not
   make much difference to the GE mobiles since they cover the full 30-50 mhz
   just fine (as opposed to the old Micors that covered 42mhz to 50mhz only.
   Does anybody have any info?

47.But aren't most citizens prohibited from using mobile radio scanners?

   from (Bob Parnass, AJ9S) on 4 nov 91:

   Anyone interested in US state and federal laws relating to radio monitoring
   should check out Frank Terranella's "Listener's Lawbook."  It is available
   for $9.95 (plus $2 UPS) from Grove Enterprises, 140 Dog Branch Road,
   Brasstown, NC 28902.

   I am not an attorney, but I have a 1989 issue of Frank's earlier work,
   "ANARC Guide to US Monitoring Laws," and will summarize from that book.
   California monitoring laws may have changed, but here are the laws of
   interest to Californians as they were in 1989:

   - Penal Code s 632.5 makes it a crime to maliciously monitor cellular radio
     telephone calls.

   - Penal Code s 635 outlaws the manufacture, sale, and possession of devices
     primarily or exclusively designed or intended for eavesdropping on
     cellular phones.

   - Penal Code s 636.5 makes it illegal to divulge any police radio service
     communication you hear on your radio to a criminal or to assist in the
     commission of a crime or help a criminal evade the law.

   In addition, Californians are subject to the same federal monitoring laws as
   other Americans.  The most important one to remember is the Electronic
   Communication Privacy Act of 1986 which makes it a crime to listen to
   cellular or mobile radio telephones or common carrier paging, and outlaws

   Section 705 of the Communications Act of 1934 makes it illegal to divulge
   the contents of what you hear on your radio to others unless the
   conversation was on ham radio or the citizens' band.


48.Where can I recycle used motor oil?

   In the San Francisco South Bay Area, if you are a homeowner, you can
arrange for curbside pickup by calling the following numbers:

   Campbell	408-354-2100		Morgan Hill	408-779-7248
   Cupertino	408-993-9440		Mountain View	415-967-3034
   Gilroy	408-848-0450		Palo Alto	415-967-3034
   Los Altos	415-961-8040		San Jose	408-277-2700
   Los Gatos	408-354-2100		Santa Clara	408-727-3044
   Milpitas	408-432-0444		Saratoga	408-354-2100
   Monte Sereno	408-354-2100		Sunnyvale	408-734-2330

   If you're a renter in the San Francisco South Bay Area, you have to bring
your used motor oil to a recycling center.  Here are the numbers for some of

   Los Gatos Recycling Center			408-354-6808
   Palo Alto Recycling Center			415-329-2495
   Sunnyvale Recycling Center			408-730-7262
   Mountain View, Foothill Disposal Co.		415-967-3034
   Santa Clara Recycling			408-727-3044
   San Martin Transfer Station			408-683-4443

   Alternatively, you can call 1-800-553-2962 for a listing of local service
   stations which accept used motor oil for a fee, usually $0.25 - $3.00 per
   gallon.  There's also the Household Hazardous Waste Program, reachable at
   408-299-7300.  That same number can also provide you with dropoff sites
   for used antifreeze, and perhaps other automotive waste as well.

49.What about recycling in other parts of California?

   Well, right now, I'm soliciting this information.  If you have such
   information yourself, please feel free to send it to me and I'll add it to
   the next version of the FAQ.

   from (Robert L. McMillin) on Thu, 2 Dec 93 05:18 PST:

   On recycling oil in Southern California: I know Bruce's Auto Service
   (8042 23rd St., Westminster, 92683, 714/891-1999) accepts used motor
   oil.  They have a large waste oil tank which I guess is cleaned out
   monthly.  They also happen to be among of that class of rara avis: the
   honest mechanic.

George J. Wu, Founder                  Software Development Connoisseur
Gourmet Software Design                Consulting Expertise in                    GUIs, Galaxy, Motif, C++, OOP, UNIX,
415-964-4381                           EDA CAD, and network management

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