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Our attorneys have been assisting the Orange County and Southern California communities for over 40 years.
The Freedom to Walk Act passed the California Assembly and was signed into law by Governor Newsom. This law will take effect in January of 2023. The goal of this law was to cut back on police confrontations and hefty fines that impact some areas more than others in the state, particularly lower-income areas and areas with larger minority populations.
Jaywalking is a crime. Or it was a crime.
Residents in California will soon be able to jaywalk without worrying about receiving a ticket from law enforcement. The new “Freedom to Walk Act” allows pedestrians to informally cross streets so long as it is safe to do so.
On January 1, 2023, the only time law enforcement officials will be able to write a ticket for jaywalking is when the individual causes an “immediate danger of a collision.”
Jaywalking laws have been a part of the American landscape for decades, really since the emergence of motor vehicles. So why now? Why, after so many years, has California decided to do away with jaywalking laws?
The answer is multifaceted. First, stripping away jaywalking laws will result in fewer incidents of law enforcement officials stopping individuals. In turn, this leads to fewer situations where a situation could escalate and become dangerous for the individual, the law enforcement official, and any bystanders.
Additionally, assemblymember Phil Ting, the bill’s sponsor, says that jaywalking tickets were disproportionately given to lower-income individuals and people of color who cannot afford to pay the fine. His data came from the California Racial and Identity Profiling Act, which showed that black individuals in California were four and a half times more likely than white Californians to be stopped by law enforcement officials for jaywalking.
Ting puts it succinctly – “It should not be a criminal offense to safely cross the street.”
As a driver, we encourage you to remain vigilant when operating your vehicle. Be aware of any pedestrians you see on or around the roadway. This new law does not allow individuals to simply cross the road indiscriminately. They must wait until it is safe to do so. However, that does not mean that everyone is going to follow the rules.
All drivers should practice defensive driving tactics and anticipate sudden movements from pedestrians. If you see a pedestrian in your vicinity, slow down until you pass them and are sure there is no danger.
If you are a pedestrian walking around in California, you should continue to cross the street at marked or unmarked crosswalks when they are available. Typically, every intersection will be a crosswalk, whether marked or unmarked. If you do need to cross the street at an area other than a crosswalk, you need to wait until you can cross safely at a walking speed.
We encourage any person who has been injured in a pedestrian accident caused by the actions of a negligent driver to reach out to a skilled attorney. A pedestrian accident lawyer in Orange County can investigate the case and help recover compensation through an insurance settlement or through a civil personal injury lawsuit.