When it comes to the subject of criminal law, when we hear the term “traffic violations,” we often think of something we do (or perhaps fail to do) while driving a car, truck, or other motor vehicle. But did you know that there are a number of laws you can break that are considered traffic violations (and are therefore considered a crime) that do not require you to be sitting behind the wheel? This article focuses on a couple of these traffic violations.
If you ride a bicycle, you are expected to obey most traffic laws (including in some locations that you not “drive” a bicycle under the influence of alcohol or drugs). But in addition to traffic laws, many jurisdictions have laws that are specific to bicycle riders only, and disobedience of these laws is considered traffic violations. These bicycle laws can include but may not be limited to the following:
- Helmets. Many jurisdictions require that bicycle riders wear a helmet, especially when the bicycle rider is a child.
- Turn and Stop Signals. Although most bicycles are not equipped with turn signals or brake lights, bicycle riders are expected to signal for these activities. Bicycle riders use hand gestures to communicate to those around them that they are preparing to turn or stop.
- Visibility. Jurisdictions often have requirements that bicycles have reflectors and possibly lights on the front and back of the bicycle, so that they bicycle is more readily visible to those driving motor vehicles.
- Riding Location. Some jurisdictions have requirements about where it is considered safe to ride a bicycle. This may be riding a bike on the street rather than the sidewalk, on the sidewalk rather than the street, and in some cases avoiding certain streets altogether.
Bicycle laws vary widely from location to location, so you should be sure to investigate and understand the bicycle laws in your area before you go for a bike ride. If you do not, it may not only be a safety issue but also result in your receiving a traffic ticket.
Jaywalking is crossing the street on foot in an illegal manner. Jaywalking can include but may not be limited to the following:
- Crosswalks. Crosswalks are designed to be a safe place where pedestrians can cross the street, as they are often marked with additional signage to make drivers of motor vehicles more aware to watch for pedestrians. When a pedestrians crosses the street outside of a crosswalk, or even when a pedestrians crosses the street in a crosswalk but fails to obey traffic signals as to when it is safe for a pedestrian to cross the street, it can be considered jaywalking.
- Sidewalk. Pedestrians are often expected to walk on sidewalk rather than in the street when a sidewalk is available.
- Yielding. Pedestrians are allowed to cross some streets outside of a crosswalk. But when doing so, pedestrians must yield to oncoming motor vehicles; otherwise, they may be cited for jaywalking.
- Construction. If a pedestrians disobeys special instructions related to closed sidewalks or other safety issues around construction areas, the pedestrians may be cited for jaywalking.
As with bicycle laws, jaywalking laws vary widely from state to state and even from jurisdiction to jurisdiction within a state. Therefore, it is a wise idea to familiarize yourself with the jaywalking laws of your location.
If you have received a ticket related to one of the traffic violations listed above or been accused of any other crime, you should speak with a criminal defense attorney. You should not try to handle the situation on your own, as any charge—even something as simple as a traffic ticket related to riding a bike or jaywalking—can have monetary repercussions. And more serious traffic violations can potentially limit your freedom if they result in you losing your drivers license. Therefore, you should get help today.
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