I got a ticket for splitting lanes. In California.

The day started out very badly.  In my way in to work this morning, I stopped at Albertson’s for some snacks for the day.  This Albertsons is located on the main way in to the military installation where I work.  On one side of the road, it’s two lanes that merge into a single lane.  It is always full of cars, and they are mainly stopped due to the excessive traffic going into the base.

As I reached the entrance to the road from the parking lot, I saw a CHP motor cop almost directly in front of me. I stopped at the edge of the exit from the parking lot, looked to my left to see if any motorcycles were coming up the side of the lane–as hundreds do every day on this stretch of road, since the traffic is always backed up about a block back. Seeing no one coming I turned into the lane, and followed the path shown below  by the pale blue arrow.

Traffic Diagram
Traffic Diagram

The CHP cop pulled out of his lane and lit me up.  I stopped and asked whyt he stopped me, and he said it was for illegal passing. To make a long story short, an argument about lane-splitting ensued, in which the CHP officer denied that the California Vehicle Code allowed lane-sharing in California, and demanded I cite the CVC section that allowed it.  I had my smartphone with me, and punched up the CHP official web site, and showed him the FAQ on lane sharing that is on the CHP’s FAQ page.  His response was to say, “Well, I don’t know why they put that on there.”

In other words, a CHP motorcycle officer denied that California allows lane sharing for motorcycles, and had no knowledge of why the CHP’s official web site said it was legal.

He cited me for unsafe passing on the shoulder, despite the fact that at no time did I cross the white shoulder line, and stayed entirely in the traffic lane. Moreover, it should be obvious from the diagram above that, with the traffic stopped as it was, it would have been physically impossible for him to observe whether or not I crossed the shoulder, as a line of stopped vehicles completely obscured any possible line of sight to the roadway.

In the 12 years I’ve used this gate into the installation, the common practice is for motorcycles to share the #2 lane. It is done constantly.

But what really burned me up was that after he had cited me, and handed me the yellow copy, he then proceeded to question me about my usual route to work, times, etc. From his tone and demeanor, I inferred that to be a threat to single me out for special attention on my morning commute, solely because I had the temerity to argue with him over the legality of lane sharing, and informing him that I would be fighting the ticket in court. When I asked him why he was questioning me in this manner, he said, “I’m just asking questions.” So, I told him that I had been a police officer for ten years, so I knew exactly what the import of those questions was.

I respond poorly to threats, so, as soon as it opened, I called the Oceanside CHP office and lodged an official complaint against the officer for this.

And, yes, I will contest this in court.

Author: Dale Franks

Dale Franks is the former host of The Business Day, ”a daily, four-hour business and financial news program on KMNY Radio in Los Angeles. From 2002-2004, he was a contributor on military and international affairs for TechCentralStation.com. Currently, he a publisher and editor of the monthly political journal The New Libertarian, as well as an editor of the popular web log, Q and O. Dale served as a military police officer in the United States Air Force from 1984 to 1993, in variety of assignments both in the United States and Europe, where he also was assigned to the staff of the Headquarters of Allied Forces Central Europe. In addition to broadcasting, writing, and speaking on various topics, Dale has also been a long-time technical training instructor on a variety of computer software and technology subjects. Dale has also long been involved with information technology as an accomplished web designer, programmer, and technologist, serving as the corporate knowledge specialist for Microsoft Outlook at SAIC, the nation's largest employee-owned corporation. Additionally, he is the author of a number of software user guides used for classroom training by one of Southern California’'s premier computer training and consulting firms. His book, SLACKERNOMICS: Basic Economics for People Who Find Economics Boring, is available from Barnes & Noble.

16 thoughts on “I got a ticket for splitting lanes. In California.”

  1. In my three years as a Deputy Sheriff one of the things that surprised me most was the number of folks on the force who obviously signed up to wear the uniform, badge, gun, and to be able to drive lights/siren.
    This guy was one of ’em.
    Embarrass him.

  2. Oh, we won’t have to go to court for months. California allows you to do a trial by written declaration first, and, if you lose that, you request a trial de novo, which requires an in-person appearance.

    You can even plead not guilty by written declaration, so you don’t even have to show up to plead.

  3. Sucks that you got lit up for ridiculous reasons, but good for you for standing up for what’s right. Please keep us posted with how things go, and good luck!
    PS: I really loved your use of the smartphone in this situation.

  4. Dale, do us all a favor and make this guy look like an incompetent fool.  One point you could bring up is that lane splitting, or sharing or whatever they call it, is legal because there is not a specific code that says it’s illegal or unlawful; kind of like it being legal by way of omission.  I think that’s how those codes work anyway – if it doesn’t say it’s not legal, then it is legal.

  5. Or just demand the chippie cite the code section which prohibits lane sharing.  That should fluster him!

  6. This is what happens, they get a badge and a gun and immediately think they know it all.  Fight it, the only problem is that it costs money to fight some of this BS. Keep us informed.

  7. You were a cop for 10 years and you got a ticket so you made a citizen’s complaint? What kind of cop were you? Because you sure are full of yourself now. Drop the revenge citizen’s complaint and contest in court as is everyones right.

    1. I was the kind of cop that didn’t drop veiled hints of unlawful retaliation towards the citizens I as sworn to protect. The kind of cop who didn’t make up the vehicle code as I went along. And I was the kind of supervisor who didn’t put up with my subordinates doing that kind of stuff either.

      You sound like you’d be a different kind of cop. The kind that thinks a badge and a gun make them God. The kind that could use a few good citizen complaints.

  8. Not only did you try to hurt the career of the cop who wrote you a ticket, but when I suggested that a ticket is just a ticket, you said that if I was a cop I would play God with a badge and a gun. Sounds like anyone who doesnt toady to you is in for trouble. Oh and now you were a supervisor too? I bet you really kept your “subordinates” subordinate.

  9. This is exactly the type of law enforcement abuses that lead to (often well-deserved) distrust of LEOs.  Where did this occur?  Shoot me an email through the RiderzLaw.com “Contact Us” form.  Maybe we can get one of our attorneys to help you fight that pro bono.

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