California law removes restrictions on jaywalking


Joseph Chiu

Jaywalking will no longer be criminalized in California starting Jan. 2023. Tickets will only be given if pedestrians cross in an unsafe manner.

Gavin Newsom signed the Freedom to Walk Act on Sept. 30, 2022, to legalize jaywalking in California. The California Vehicle Code Section 21955 previously prohibited pedestrians from crossing the roadway outside of a crosswalk.

Safely crossing the street is not a criminal offense and the high cost of fines that could unfairly impact poorer people, according to California State Assemblymember Phil Ting in his proposed Assembly Bill No. 2147.

The new law will take effect on Jan. 1, 2023, to officially eliminate all violations of CVC 21955. Police officers are prohibited from handing out citations to jaywalkers unless an immediate danger of a collision is posed.

“Jaywalking isn’t like any big crime, so that’s enough. It’s kind of just like a parking ticket in my opinion. They can go across whenever they want [without] having to worry about it or hide it,” said Chase Lee (‘23).

Implications on traffic

In the event of an accident, lawsuits can be filed on both sides to determine whether or not the driver is at fault. The court must make rulings to determine any reduction in a driver or pedestrian’s overall fine.

“I think I’ll be more cautious of people jaywalking because of the new law. I’m just gonna expect people to automatically cross versus people [waiting] previously. I think people will do it more because they know there’s not a consequence,” said physical education teacher Diana Hasenpflug.

Both the pedestrian and driver are still held liable for an injury. Thus, the new law will ticket pedestrians that create a danger to other vehicles. Those that safely cross the street will not be ticketed.

“I will begin jaywalking more from now on because it’s a much faster way to cross the road than going to a crosswalk… If you jaywalk right in front of a car, that’s not good. But if you were jaywalking normally and safely, nobody should really care,” said Shantelle Tupaz (‘24).