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Jaywalking is Now Legal In California

Jaywalking is Now Legal In California

Here is the new law. It says you can’t but it also says police cannot do anything unless it is dangerous when you do it.

§ 21955. Crossing between controlled intersections


(a) Between adjacent intersections controlled by traffic control signal devices or by police officers, pedestrians shall not cross the roadway at any place except in a crosswalk.

(b)(1) A peace officer, as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2 of the Penal Code, shall not stop a pedestrian for a violation of subdivision (a) unless a reasonably careful person would realize there is an immediate danger of a collision with a moving vehicle or other device moving exclusively by human power.

(2) This subdivision does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for their safety.

(3) This subdivision does not relieve a driver of a vehicle from the duty of exercising due care for the safety of any pedestrian within the roadway.

This is how the Ninth Circuit explained the logic of the new statute.

Jaywalking is a salient illustration that, where a generic traffic law is on the books but not enforced, it may well be because there’s no real government interest underlying it. Jaywalking was, until recently, illegal in California, but also “endemic” and “rarely result[ed] in arrest.” Nieves v. Bartlett, ––– U.S. ––––, 139 S. Ct. 1715, 1727, 204 L.Ed.2d 1 (2019); see Cal. Stats. 2022, ch. 957 (A.B. 2147). Based in part on evidence that people of color and low-income individuals are disproportionately cited for jaywalking violations, a selective enforcement danger that arises where officers have probable cause to make arrests but typically exercise their discretion not to do so, the California legislature recently amended its jaywalking laws to permit a peace officer to stop a jaywalker only if “a reasonably careful person would realize there is an immediate danger of a collision with a moving vehicle.” See, e.g., Cal. Stats. 2022, ch. 957 (A.B. 2147), § 11(b)(1); Cal. Veh. Code § 21955 (2023); see Colleen Shalby, Jaywalking Is Decriminalized in California Under New Law, L.A. Times, Oct. 1, 2022,

Porter v. Martinez (9th Cir. 2023) 68 F.4th 429, 454

The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights (Here is their Donate Page if you like their work) said this about the Legislation:

Decriminalize Jaywalking – AB 2147

2022 (PASSED)

AB 2147, The Freedom to Walk Act, would decriminalize jaywalking when the roadway is safe to cross.  

LCCRSF is sponsoring AB 2147 (Ting), the Freedom to Walk Act, a reintroduction of last year’s (AB 1238) bill to decriminalize jaywalking. This crucial legislation will protect vulnerable pedestrians against arbitrary, racially-biased, pretextual policing, as well as burdensome fees and fines, and unnecessary, and potentially lethal, interactions with law enforcement  

 he latest proposal makes technical changes to address the concerns stated in the Governor’s veto message of AB 1238 last year. Instead of repealing the state’s jaywalking laws, the new bill defines when an officer can stop a pedestrian for jaywalking – specified as only when a reasonably careful person would realize there’s an immediate danger of a collision.  

AB 2147/The Freedom To Walk Act promotes the fair and equitable use of streets by:   

  • Legalizing crossings outside of a crosswalk or against a traffic light when safe, thereby eliminating fines for safe crossings  
  • Preventing police from using jaywalking as a pretext to stop Black and Brown people 

The post Jaywalking is Now Legal In California appeared first on Lawyers In Lafayette.

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