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Freedom to Walk Act: Is Jaywalking Legal in California Now?

The Freedom to Walk act went into effect in California on January 1, 2023 and it has Californians asking, "Is it legal to jaywalk in California now?" While it's much easier to cross the street outside of a marked crosswalk, the rules around jaywalking in California aren't cut and dry.

Before you leap out onto the road throwing caution to the wind, read our explainer on the new jaywalking laws and whether you can safely jaywalk in California without worrying about getting a traffic ticket from police officers.

What are the jaywalking laws in California?

If you're coming from a state that ignores jaywalking to the point where you don't even know what it is--we've actually encountered this before--here's a brief explainer: jaywalking in California is when a pedestrian crosses a road with traffic at an unmarked crosswalk or designated crossing area.

Prior to January 1, 2023, jaywalking was punishable by fine or citation in California, which meant roads were generally clear of pedestrians outside of marked crosswalks. However, the Freedom to Walk act is a new law that makes it so that it's ok to cross the street outside a crosswalk.

Both drivers and pedestrians will now have to exercise greater care when navigating the streets.

Did the Freedom to Walk act make jaywalking legal in California?

With the Freedom to Walk act now in effect, Californians can jaywalk without getting a citation if they do so safely. According to the new law in CVC 21955, this means crossing the street when it is not hazardous or risky, or there are no cars present, and police officers are only to cite pedestrians in situations where a reasonably careful person would realize there is immediate danger of collision.

When there are no cars nearby or other hazardous conditions on the road, a pedestrian can jaywalk in California without being harassed by police and cited for jaywalking.

However, duty of care still falls on the pedestrian when jaywalking, so it's not exactly a free-for-all on the streets. Otherwise, you'll need a pedestrian accident lawyer for your trouble.

When is it safe to jaywalk in California?

It is safe to jaywalk in any city in California is when there are no hazards or vehicles in or entering the roadway before you cross it.

If a car is approaching faster than you can cross the street, just wait for it. If there is heavy traffic on the road you want to cross, it's safer and easier to cross at a marked crosswalk.

If there is road construction or other obstacles on the road, it might be safer to use a designated crossing area to cross the street rather than jaywalking.

Use your judgement and exercise caution--if you cross when it's dangerous, you share liability in any accidents or injuries as a result.

What to do if you're injured in a pedestrian accident in California

If you were injured as a pedestrian anywhere in California, and you believe you were crossing the street safely, you may have a case. Even if you're not sure whether you're to blame for a pedestrian accident, you should reach out to a lawyer to discuss the nature of the incident.

Many people who are involved in accidents and are unsure whether they're at fault or only partially at fault should always contact an attorney. California has comparative negligence laws, which means multiple parties can be partially responsible for an accident.

What is the fine or fee for jaywalking in California?

If you jaywalk under hazardous conditions or when there are cars present or quickly approaching, a police officer can still cite you for jaywalking. The fine or fee for jaywalking in California can be up to $196 as a base fine.

Other fees and fines can be stacked on top of the base fine, so it's better to avoid the headache overall and not jaywalk in dangerous situations.

If you need assistance from a car accident lawyer, feel free to give us a call any time at (844) 966-0965.

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