California’s Seat Belt Laws

California’s Seat Belt Laws

Every driver has seen a sign telling them and their passengers to buckle their seat belts. Most people don’t need to be reminded to buckle up. They know that wearing their seat belt is the best way to stay safe in the event of an accident. However, there are still some people out there who need to be reminded of that fact.

In an effort to try to keep everyone safe, every state in the union has created laws against driving without a seat belt. Here in California, Vehicle Code (VC) 27315 is the state’s seat belt law. It lists the times when a person needs to wear a seat belt and what kind of consequences a person would face for not wearing the belt.

California Vehicle Code 27315

VC 27315 is more commonly referred to as the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. This act was created in an effort to keep motorists safe while driving across California. The act basically states that no person over the age of 16 can ride or drive in a moving vehicle without being properly restrained.

Being properly restrained is defined as having the lower lap portion strapped over the stomach and the upper shoulder portion of the belt being strapped across the front of the chest. Basically, for any vehicle from the year 1996 or newer, passengers have to wear the full seat belt. A person cannot place the shoulder portion of the seat belt behind their back.

Another factor in this law is that all seat belts need to be kept in proper, working order.

Consequences of Not Buckling Up

Breaking VC 27315 is an infraction level offense. This means it does not come with criminal charges or jail time. A person simply faces a small fine for not wearing their seat belt while riding in a moving vehicle.

When a person doesn’t wear their seat belt, they will be the ones to get a ticket, not the driver of the vehicle. Unless the un-belted person is a minor, in which case the driver is responsible for the child’s safety.

For a first time offense, a person faces a $20 base fine.

For any subsequent offenses, a person faces a $50 base fine.

In some instances, a person may be able to avoid a fine if they can take a traffic school course, provided the course teaches about seat belt safety.

Despite the nature of breaking this law, a person will not receive any points on their driver’s license. This helps a person avoid collecting too many points on their license and the increased insurance rates that would come with them.

It is important to remember that all of these consequences are on top of the fact that if a person doesn’t wear a seat belt and winds up in an accident, they are much more likely to receive serious injuries. Seat belts save lives. By not wearing one, a person is risking their own life.

Kids and Seat Belts

It is pretty easy to see how seat belts aren’t exactly designed for children. That is why there are car seats built to keep kids safe at all ages. According to California law:

• Kids under the age of 2 should be restrained in rear-facing car seats unless the child weighs more than 40 pounds, or is taller than 40 inches.
• Children under the age of 8 must be secured in a car seat in the back seat.
• Children 8 and older, or taller than 4 feet, 9 inches, should be in a booster seat, or at least secured by a seat belt.
• Children 16 and older must wear a seat belt.

 
Failing to follow these regulations can result in the parent receiving fines, and a point on their driver’s license.

A first time offense comes with a base fine of $100.

Subsequent offenses come with a base fine of $250.

Don’t Ignore the Ticket

With such a small ticket price, some people may feel like ignoring the ticket and its court date. However, that is a terrible idea. By ignoring a ticket and failing to appear in court, a person violates VC 40508. Unlike VC 27315, breaking VC 40508 comes with actual criminal charges.

When a person breaks this law, they can face:

• Up to 6 months in jail.
• A max fine of $1,000.

 

Just Wear the Seat Belt

At the end of the day, it is best that everyone just buckle up when they get in a vehicle. Doing so can keep them safe in the event of an accident. Plus, getting caught not wearing a seat belt can earn a person a nice fine, and they will have to appear in court. It is so much easier to just wear the seat belt.

What do you think of California’s take on seat belt laws? Is it too much, or not enough? Should driving without a seat belt earn a person a point on their driver’s license?

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Minors Breaking the Law

Minors Breaking the Law

Everyone knows that kids get into trouble. Luckily, for the most part, kids tend to only get in trouble with their parents. As long as parents keep an eye on their children, and play an active role in the child’s life, the kid is less likely to wind up in serious trouble. However, that is not always the case. Sometimes kids mess up in a big way, and find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Finding out that a child has broken a law is a terrible situation for a parent to deal with. No parent ever wants to answer the front door, or a phone, to learn that their child is in some serious trouble. While rare, this does happen from time to time. As such, a parent should be aware of what happens when a minor has a run in with law enforcement agents.

How the Law Handles Juveniles

When a minor gets in trouble with the law, officers react a little differently. In most cases, minors receive lesser penalties for crimes than an adult would. Still, there are times when a minor could find themselves locked up.

What happens to a minor who broke the law is largely dependent on the crime itself. If the charge is relatively minor, then the child will likely be allowed to go home, or be escorted home. Most of the time, the law prefers that parents take care of the children themselves. However, that is not always an option.

If things are a little more serious, then the minor may be given a summons to appear in court at a later date. If things are real bad, then the minor may be arrested and taken to juvenile hall.

Juvenile Hall

Just because a minor is taken to juvenile hall does not mean that they will be forced to stay there forever. This isn’t the end of the world.

A probation officer will look at the case and decide how to proceed. The officer can do one of the following:

• Give the minor a citation to appear in court and send him/her home.
• Place the minor on probation, which allows them to go home and avoid going to court, unless they continue to misbehave.
• Hold the minor in juvenile hall until a judge can look at the case.

 

Minors in Court

When dealing with courts, minors go to a separate court that focuses solely on minors. If a child has to go to a hearing in court, they could be going for any of the following reasons:

• Detention Hearing. This will determine if the child needs to stay in juvenile hall or not.
• Transfer Hearing. This will determine if the case will stay at this level, or be moved up to an adult court.
• Adjudication. This is the actual trial held in front of a judge, without a jury.
• Disposition Hearing. If the juvenile is found guilty, this is where they receive their sentencing.

 
Despite the fact that these court hearings are for minors, they are still very serious. A person should treat these hearings the exact same way they would any other court appearances. This means a person, especially the minor, should dress appropriately and behave while in the court.

Consequences of Court

The goal of the juvenile delinquency system is to rehabilitate minors and to help mold them into good, well-behaved individuals. As such, judges have a lot of options when it comes to sentencing any minor that is found guilty.

What is likely the best case scenario for a guilty verdict, is probation. This means the minor is able to go home. They just have to be on their best behavior to ensure they don’t receive a worse punishment. Some common probation conditions can include:

• A curfew.
• Going to counseling.
• Going to school.
• Making restitutions to the victims.
• Performing community service.

 
A worst case scenario would be when a judge determines that a child is better off away from their home. The child could become a ward of the state, which is where the state takes responsibility for the child. The minor could be placed into a probation camp, or into California’s Division of Juvenile Justice. Neither of these are great outcomes.

Be a Part of Your Child’s Life

No parent ever wants their child to have to face hardship, and getting into trouble with the law definitely counts as hardship. Luckily, a child has to screw up pretty majorly in order to wind up in juvenile hall. So long as a parent takes an active role in their kid’s life, they should be able to prevent that from ever happening.

When kids have guidance, they are able to make better choices, and therefore are less likely to end up getting into trouble in the first place. That is why parents need to pay attention to their kids. If they don’t, their child could make a bad choice and find him or herself in juvie.

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You Won’t Believe the Truth From Behind the Bars

You Won’t Believe the Truth From Behind the Bars

Prisons in general seem to have a reputation, but California prisons seem to have some of the worst. However, like most hot topics, people aren’t always completely informed about the problem. People question the integrity of the jail and prison systems. Understanding the prison system in California is the first step in figuring out how to go about possibly fixing any issues.

Most prisoners in California are U.S. citizens. According to the Public Policy of California (PPIC) 81% of prisoners are U.S. citizens, and only 19% are foreign nationalities. 5% of the 19% are from Mexico. This shows that criminals don’t all come from our neighboring countries. This statistic shows that as Americans, we tend to have problems with following the laws of the land.

California’s prison population is big but it’s not the worst. California’s prison population in 2006 was 163,000 inmates. Ten years later the total prison population in California as of 2016 has increased to 1,505,400 according the Bureau of Justice Department. However, this places California 18th in the nation with some of the lowest incarceration rates. It’s expected to see a decrease in prison population as laws continue to change in California.

The incarceration statistics continue to be startling. The age of prisoners is growing as well. Meaning there are more, older prisoners (50 or older) in prison. Not only are they getting older, they’re needing more help medically. In 2016, 30% of prisoners required mental health services. They’re older and are repeat offenders, meaning that they are leaving prison and then being recommitted for more crimes. No one is ever really leaving the system.

California prison statistics aren’t common knowledge. Most people don’t think to look at the stats in regards to prisons because it doesn’t typically affect their lives. Looking at the facts is important for a person to understand what is going on in the world. By having the facts, a person will be able to make informed and educated decisions that could go on to make the world a better place.

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Did You Know This about Carpool Lanes?

Did You Know This about Carpool Lanes?

If you have ever driven on a California freeway, you’ve probably seen a carpool lane before. More recently, they have been renamed to HOV lanes, which stands for High Occupancy Vehicle Lane. These are lanes that are only accessible by vehicles that have more than one occupant in the vehicle. The idea is that by offering a clear lane for only certain vehicles, more people will be encouraged to rideshare and therefore reduce the amount of traffic on the road.

While carpool lanes may parallel and resemble other lanes on the road, they are viewed as different. They have different sets of rules to ensure that they are used properly and effectively. Breaking these rules can get a person pulled over and issued a traffic violation ticket.

One rule that some people do not realize, is that not all carpool lanes are active 24/7. Some lanes are only considered carpool lanes at set times for certain days of the week. These times usually coincide with peak traffic conditions and are often posted on the signs near the lane itself. This means that anyone can drive through the lane when it isn’t during the posted time, but during those times, only vehicles with more than one occupant can use the lane.

When a driver violates the rules of carpool line, they can face a minimum fine of $490 dollars. Repeat offenders will likely face higher fines. Depending on the location, there can also be additional fees if the local city has elected add additional fees in an effort to reduce carpool lane abuse.

Nobody likes dealing with traffic and California seems to have more than its fair share. This isn’t surprising considering that California is the most populated state in the country. However, this is not an excuse to misuse the carpool lane. If a driver wants to be able to use the carpool lane on their way to and from work, then they should find someone to rideshare with. Otherwise they could faces some hefty fines.

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The New California Law No One Saw Coming

The New California Law No One Saw Coming

Perhaps one of the more disheartening aspects of law-making is how some laws come into effect. With very little recognition, a new law was recently signed into effect that can, and likely will, change the effectiveness of law enforcement. Assembly Bill 1810 was recently signed into law as a part of California’s new budget. However, this law has very little to do with budgeting.

AB 1810 is supposed to be a health bill, but has more prominence in the law enforcement sector. Under this new law, just about anyone accused a crime, regardless of how serious, could claim a mental health issue and ask to be placed on a two year diversion plan. In other words, a person could say they only committed a crime because they have a problem and then the judge would put him or her into a two year course to correct whatever problem the person claims to have. Upon completion of the course, the person’s record would be sealed, making it as if the crime never happened.

The wording of the bill is very vague, and allows for just about anyone to claim some mental health issue. It is easy to see how this can very easily be used and manipulated to get people out of being punished for a crime. What’s worse, is how little attention this big change in law got. It spent less a week going through Sacramento before being approved by both houses and sent to the Governor for final signature. That is not a lot of time to truly evaluate something this substantial.

Of course, there are some people out there who need a program like this. Something like this can get them the help that they desperately need. Unfortunately, the way the bill is worded, it is very easy for someone to take advantage of this change in procedures, and use it to avoid any real punishment altogether.

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Could Prop 9 Be Stopped Before Anyone Gets to Vote?

Could Prop 9 Be Stopped Before Anyone Gets to Vote?

If you have been paying attention to politics this year in the state of California, you know that we voters have some pretty big decisions to make come November. One of the biggest measures on the ballot this year is whether we want to begin looking at dividing California into three separate states.

This is a very big deal for every Californian, and as such, it is receiving a lot of attention. In fact, a group of people is now trying to block the measure from being added to the November ballot. An environmentalist group, The Planning and Conservation League, sponsored the filing at the California Supreme Court.

The argument against Prop 9 is that it is too big of a decision to give to the people of California. Prop 9 claims that it will only amend the state Constitution, however its critics say that the measure will completely revise the state Constitution. This is something that the California Supreme Court has regularly sided against.

Splitting up the state of California is a very big deal, and this isn’t the first time someone has tried to do this. In fact, this isn’t even the first time that Prop 9’s sponsor tried to split up the state. Tim Draper tried to split California into 6 states back in 2014, but the measure ultimately failed.

California is a pretty big state, and the thought of splitting it up is terrifying for many people. However, splitting up the state is not as simple as voting to do so. Even if Californians approve the measure, it would still need to be approved by the state senate and House of Representatives. From there, it would then go to Congress in Washington DC for final approval, which would be unlikely. A state hasn’t been split since West Virginia separated from Virginia in 1863.

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Smoking Marijuana While Driving

Smoking Marijuana While Driving

While the rest of the country may be debating what to do about cannabis, Californians have already decided. California recently legalized marijuana for recreational use. We followed several other states like Oregon, Washington, and Colorado. While we weren’t the first ones to legalize weed recreationally, we are still one of the eight states that allows it recreationally. However, like with alcohol and cigarettes, there are laws that have to be followed.

Arguably the most important place to follow the law is behind the wheel. When a person steps behind the wheel of a vehicle they greatly increase the chances of causing harm to someone. Vehicle related deaths are some of the highest in the nation.

Before California allowed the sale of recreational marijuana, they passed several laws in anticipation. In particular they passed a law in regards to driving while smoking. According to this law, written by Sen. Jerry Hill, if a person is caught smoking marijuana while operating a vehicle, or while riding in a vehicle, they can be subjected to a violation. The violation will include a fine of $70.

This really isn’t a new law for us. It’s already illegal to drive while intoxicated. Obtaining a DUI isn’t because you were drunk, it just means you were under the influence of some kind of substance. Along with not being intoxicated while driving, you cannot have an open container of cannabis in your vehicle. This is similar to you not being allowed to have an open container of alcohol in the vehicle.

Since we are one of the few states that have legalized the use of marijuana recreationally, we have to be the role model for other states in the future. As time continues, more studies will be released in regards to the use of marijuana, which will broaden our understanding of the subject as a whole. Until then, exercise caution, and just follow the law.

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Don’t Be Carefree This Summer

Don’t Be Carefree This Summer

It is summertime in California, which means singing along to your favorite tunes and hanging out with friends. All year long you’ve been waiting to let go, go on vacation, and bring out your favorite summer playlist. You’ve got your swimsuit on, and the car packed for the beach. You’re all set, right? Wrong. You’ve forgotten to think about your safety, and the safety of those around you.

Even though you want to be carefree this summer, you still need to take the necessary steps to be safe. Before heading out anywhere alone, notify a family member, or close friend of your plans. It may seem ridiculous, but if something were to happen to you while you were alone, no one would know. Notifying someone of your plans allows them to know where you are, and to worry about you if they don’t hear back from you at some point. Traveling alone this summer can be a freeing experience, but can turn into a criminal mystery real quick if no one knows you plans.

If you’re traveling with friends this summer, talk about your plans. If you all plan on spending the night before drinking the night away, it’s best to set up an alternative way home, instead of driving yourselves. Knowing ahead of time that you plan on taking a taxi home will help eliminate the drama of last minute changes of plans. It also gives your group of friends the peace of mind of who is the designated driver. Most importantly, it doesn’t allow any drunk driving to occur.

Summer is all about exploring, but don’t surround yourself with strangers. Going to a party alone with strangers is a recipe for disaster. Party settings are usually full of drinking, smoking, and people making bad decisions. Don’t let yourself be in that kind of situation. Bringing a friend that you know to a party will bring you some peace of mind. If things don’t go well at the party, you’ll have a familiar face that you know you can count on.

Summer is the best time to cut loose and be a little crazy. However, you still need to be safe, and accountable for your actions. You can still have a carefree summer, just take a few small steps to remain safe. These small steps could make the difference between life and death. That may seem too serious for the summertime, but situations can turn deadly if no one took the necessary precautionary steps.

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How Many Guns Did He Have?

How Many Guns Did He Have?

California has some of the strictest guns laws within the United States. While this is frustrating for some, it is meant to help keep people safe. There are many people out there who should not own a gun or any other sort of weapon. That is why people are now required to pass a background check before purchasing a gun.

Unfortunately, despite all of these laws, guns still fall into the wrong hands. Take for instance a southern California resident who was recently arrested for own too many guns. Manuel Fernandez, a 60-year-old Agua Dulce resident, was recently arrested for having over 500 different guns in his home. That is a ridiculously large number of weapons. The only people who need that many guns are army suppliers and video game characters with comically large backpacks.

Aside from owning far too many weapons, the man was also a convicted felon. In case you weren’t aware, it is illegal in California for a felon to own any firearms. This makes the insane crime even worse. Fernandez was arrested for being a felon in possession of a firearm and for illegally possessing an assault rifle.

This is a perfect example of why some people should not be allowed to purchase firearms. This is why many of the California gun laws exist. However, this does bring up the question of how did this man acquire so many weapons? After all, over 500 is an absurd amount of guns for a single person.

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3 Tips to Increase Your Credit Score

3 Tips to Increase Your Credit Score

It’s a situation no one ever wants to be in, but it’s one that you may face in your lifetime.

Picture this: You’ve just been arrested, you’ve been booked and given a bail amount, and you’ve called someone for assistance. Now, you sit and wait in a holding cell while a loved one contacts a bail agent to help obtain your freedom. However, there’s a problem. The bail agency cannot issue a bond because, after running a credit report, their credit score isn’t high enough.

This is a serious problem because now you’re forced to sit in jail and wait until your court appearance. However, this is an avoidable problem. The answer is simple – keep your credit score up so that you never have to worry about it being too low to be approved. But what exactly is a good credit score? There is no right answer, however, according to ExperianExperian a credit score can range between 300 and 850. See below for an in-depth look at the credit score breakdown, courtesy of Experian.

In order to help ensure you and your loved ones have a good enough credit score to be approved for a bail bond, a home, or anything in between, we’ve compiled a list of three steps you can take starting today.

• Pay your bills on time – According to Credit Karma, one of the most important things lenders care about is the likelihood you are going to pay them back. This is determined through your history of paying your bills on time. By paying all of your bills on time you show lenders that you’re reliable and will uphold your end of the bargain.
• Pay off your debt – In order to grant you a loan, lenders want to ensure that you have enough room in your monthly expenses to be able to afford another bill. Be sure to pay down your current debt as quickly as possible so you have room for unexpected necessities.
• Don’t open too many credit cards at the same time – When you open a new line of credit, it creates a “hard line” on your credit report which stays there for two years. This could create a negative effect on your credit report.

 

If you’re looking to increase your credit score, it’s important to know what your score is. There are a lot of free websites that will allow you to check it for free, utilize them. Keep in mind that improving your credit score takes time and doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll want to ensure that you follow these three tips every month and develop good financial habits.

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