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California Driving (and Surviving) FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about driving in California (and surviving it)

This FAQ about California Driving (and Surviving) was compiled and written by "George J Wu" georgewu@netcom.com with numerous contributions by others.

Copyright (C) 1994-1997 by George J Wu. All Rights Reserved. Permission to redistribute is granted provided this notice is not removed. Redistribution must also note that this information is freely available on the Internet in various newsgroups at and various archive sites and that such other sources may be more current than the redistributed copy. Contributors, as noted in the FAQ itself, may also retain certain rights.

Disclaimer: Any information contained herein may be incorrect and/or may simply be an expression of opinion. No guarantee of suitability for any purpose is offered or implied. No responsibility is assumed for any use, or for any consequences resulting from any use, of information contained herein. The contents of this FAQ should not be construed as legal advice, for which you should consult an attorney.

Note: The author of this posting does not wish to receive unsolicted email with advertising content. Messages strictly regarding the ca.driving FAQ are, of course, always welcome. Senders of advertising should know that my time spent simply perusing and deleting their messages is significant, in addition to the cost of disk storage imposed by my Internet Service Provider. Accordingly, by sending me email, senders of unsolicited advertisements implicitly agree to compensate me on my usual consulting terms, per instance of email, as I normally state them to all my clients. While reserving the sole right to modify my terms at any time, I currently charge $80.00 per hour for minimum engagements of 120 hours. Therefore, transmission of any unsolicted advertising to this email address constitutes implicit acceptance of a $9600.00 per instance fee for the time I spend disposing of said message. Any time and expenses necessary on my part to collect any charges will also be payable by the advertiser.

-01 I got a ticket for XXXX. Can I beat it in court and how?
-02 There's a mistake on the ticket I just got. Does that invalidate it?
-03 How do I get a copy of the California Vehicle Code?
-04 What are some noteworthy or peculiar California Vehicle Code laws?
-05 Is it legal to change lanes in the middle of an intersection?
-06 Is it legal for vehicles (usually motorcycles) to share a lane?
-07 What is the grace period for getting a driver's license after establishing residency in California? What is the grace period for vehicle registration?
-08 Do I have to have my driver's license with me when driving?
-09 Do I have to have any identification with me while not driving?
-10 What information is in the driver license mag stripe?
-11 Are there special license plates of Yosemite's Tunnel View?
-12 How often can I be cited for expired vehicle registration? And is it always or never a fix-it ticket?
-13 Does my vehicle have to be registered, even if I don't drive it?
-14 How much will it cost to import to CA and register an out-of-state vehicle?
-15 Is window tinting legal? What about pull-down blinds and window stickers?
-16 Do I need chains in the mountains if I have snow tires? If so, what kind?
-17 Can a local cop cite you for speeding on an Interstate?
-18 Can a CHP officer write a ticket for an offense not committed on a freeway?
-19 What's the difference between the CA Highway Patrol and the CA State Police?
-20 Are radar detectors illegal in CA, or just not popular for some reason?
-21 Am I entitled to a jury trial for my traffic ticket? Can I have counsel appointed at public expense? Can I be sent to prison if found guilty?
-22 Why can't I both argue my case in court and use traffic school to keep the points off my license if I lose?
-23 I've heard about "comedy traffic schools". Has anyone tried one of these?
-24 Do tickets dismissed by traffic school attendance appear on my DMV record?
-25 Do out-of-state tickets appear on your California DMV printout, and can insurance companies can find this info out if they don't?
-26 Does the DMV find out about tickets received from Federal authorities?
-27 Did you know you'll soon lose the right to a trial for parking tickets?
-28 How much insurance must a driver carry?
-29 Do insurance companies have to be licensed in CA? How can I tell if one is?
-30 Can my insurer legally ask me for my roommates' names and license numbers?
-31 What's the net.recommendation for motorcycle insurance?
-32 What's the state of Los Angeles' freeways after the Northridge earthquake? If I'm driving down from Northern California, should I take I-5 as usual, or is there now a faster route?
-33 When you see a sign "Litter removal next two miles by organization XXX", what exactly does XXX do?
-34 How much are the gasoline taxes in CA?
-35 Can I get a ticket for a traffic violation while I'm riding a bicycle?
-36 Will such bicycle traffic convictions go on my DMV driving record?
-37 I had to slow down because of a bicyclist and then cross the center line to pass. Aren't those damn fool lycra-butts supposed to ride on the sidewalk/in the gutter/in the bike lane/etc?
-38 Oh? So what are these bike lanes for, then?
-39 One of those gangs of a dozen neon-shirted lycra-butts was taking up a whole lane the other day, don't they have to ride single file?
-40 Okay, so what do I do to get around a bicyclist and be on my way?
-41 I'm a slow, occasional cyclist and I feel a lot safer riding the way I walk, against the traffic. Is that OK?
-42 What are some useful phone numbers and/or addresses?
-43 What are some recommended readings?
-44 Can I actually get traffic conditions over the Internet?
-45 What is a "CHiPs detector"? What's the complete story on CHP radios?
-46 But aren't most citizens prohibited from using mobile radio scanners?
-47 Where can I recycle used motor oil?
-48 What about recycling in other parts of California?

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