Jaywalking Tickets

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Jaywalking ticket in Albany

Feb 2009

I recently received a jaywalking ticket in Albany. I was crossing in a crosswalk but against the light. I thought the ticket would be around $40 or $50 but just found out that it is $158! Has anyone ever fought a jaywalking ticket and won? The clerk at the Oakland courthouse told me that I needed to show up at 6;30 AM in order to ensure being heard by a judge. Thoughts? Ideas? Experiences? Please share. This just seems like a LOT of money for what seemed like a minor infraction (i.e. no cars coming toward me, in cross walk etc) thanks! jaywalker

Oh I got one of those too, but In Berkeley. It was not Jaywalking, it was crossing against the light as I was in the crosswalk. It was about $130. Times are tough and those city managers are fighting for every measly quarter. I really couldn't fight the ticket because I was wrong, but I was just incensed at the cost. I MEAN COME ON. THAT BORDERS ON RACKETEERING. So I sent a Letter to Tom Bates telling him how outrageous the fee was for such a nominal infraction. Then I listed for him all of the charitable contributions I had given to Berkeley organizations for the last 5 years and I detailed my downtown Berkeley spending for the same period of time. He never answered me, so now I do not shop there or give any money to those organizations. And I don't feel a bit bad when I see those empty store fronts and boy, there are a lot these days. -watch your step and shop elsewhere

Honestly, my first thought reading your post was that I ought to print it out and deliver it to the Court, and alert that them that some bozo would be on his/her way to dispute a jaywalking charge, despite admitting to the infraction. Seriously. You know what you did was a violation... you're merely disputing whether or not the penalty really ought to apply to you? But some morning coffee, and having got my daughter safely off to school, observing traffic rules so that neither she nor I got run over (or ran over anyone else), stayed my hand (that and some coffee). Seriously... it's a stiff fine, but you earned it. (And don't be wasting my tax money by tying up the courts, please!) non-jaywalker in Albany

I have a magic wand that I can pass to you that will make this whole thing disappear, except for the traces left in memory. If you choose to not use this wand, you may end up obsessing over this situation for many weeks or months to come. In addition to obsessing over this matter, you may end up spending hours and hours of your time, burn a couple gallons of fossil fuel, run the risk of getting a parking ticket, and have many moments of a disquieting feeling in your belly as you try to anticipate your interactions and try to convince the world (or a judge) that you don't deserve this kind of thing. You may end up reaching out to others looking for advice or assistance or just someone to listen to how wronged you are. You may end up having this consume your attention for many, many days and have your mind go over and over what you are going to say and how you are going to say it and imagine what the judge is going to say and imagine how much you end up paying and blah, blah, blah. Now that you have the picture, here is the disappearing wand. PAY THE TICKET-NOW. The chose is up to you. attention is precious

Wow, that is expensive! But you broke the law. Write the check. If you don't agree with the law, legislation is the way to change it, not the courts. laws are not relative

I don't quite understand where you're coming from.

If you didn't do what they accused you of, then by all means fight the ticket.

But if you did it, and you seem to acknowledge that, just admit you were wrong, submit to the lawful penalty, and resolve not to break the law again.

This is a parent's forum, so let's think about what message you want to send to your kids --- (a) to be careful on the street and obey the traffic rules; (b) to acknowledge mistakes and pay the penalties honestly when you break the rules; (c) not to try to weasel out of consequences of your rule breaking.

If you honestly think the penalties are too harsh as a matter of public policy, then please do lobby the city council to lower the jaywalking penalty... AFTER you have paid your own penalty at the rate that was in effect when you broke the rules. Why after? Because that's the only way to be sure you're making an honest effort at shaping good public policy, rather than just saving your own skin. Live up to what you expect from your kids

Jaywalking ticket in Berkeley

April 2008

Until it happened to my partner recently, I didn't know that the police in berkeley ticketed pedestrians for jaywalking! Turns out the fine is $123! Has anybody out there successfully fought a pedestrian violation? We've just moved from the midwest and while it's sort of a funny story to tell at a dinner party, the fine is anything but funny. Cynthia

Did you or didn't you jaywalk? I will guess that you did since so many people do in Berkeley. In that case, I suggest you pay and be more careful in the future. I am both a pedestrian and a motorist in Berkeley. It is a very crowded and impacted place. Often traffic gets very backed up just because of jaywalking -- cars very often have to stop for green lights because pedestrians are crossing in front of them. Intersections like Shattuck with Center, Allston, and Addison can be particularly bad. Jaywalkers seriously impact traffic flow. One day they may decide to close these streets to traffic, but until they do, pedestrians should have to obey the rules just like motorists.

If you truly didn't jay walk, you should first bring it up with the officer who gave you the ticket as the facts are in front of both of you. You can always try going to court, but that is costly in terms of your time, and the judges know that the officers rarely make mistakes in these cases.

If any motorists are reading that are not often in Berkeley, do be very careful when you are there, particularly with crosswalks crossing streets adjacent to the University. Many of them do not have lights and pedestrians have full right of way there. Berkeley regular

Cynthia-- (This isn't what you want to hear and is in some ways very very Berkeley. Forgive me.) While I'm very sympathetic to being caught unawares by the citation, perhaps you haven't heard about the rash of pedestrian fatalities in Berkeley in just the last year. At least three of these took place in crosswalks, which are obviously the drivers' fault. Still, I am astonished, given the situation, by how often I see people put themselves in harm's way, crossing outside a crosswalk- I was just recently ranting about how I wished the cops gave these out. Not to punish people and suck them dry but to raise awareness. My kids' school is on a fairly busy street and there's no light at the crosswalk. But we have a guard and it's painted yellow. Still--I see parents pull their kids across the street just feet away from the crosswalk. I worry whenever I hear sirens that someone has gotten hit.

I think this town of ours--Berkeley--is excessive in many things. But on this one, I'm glad they're out there ticketing. One of the amazing things about California is the pedestrian right of way. If we want that protected, then we need to be good pedestrians.

Really, I am sorry for lecturing.

And by the way . . . my husband once got a HEFTY moving violation for making a right turn that took him through a crosswalk where a ped had just started walking. Not only was there no danger of his hitting the ped, the ped signalled to my husband that he wanted him to go ahead and take his turn. ''Don't wait for me. Go ahead . . .etc.'' Well. A cop saw this and cited my husband explaining that if a ped has even a foot in the crosswalk, you must stop. So they do enforce both sides. Which I'm in just as much support of.

Sorry to harangue. Welcome to Berkeley. nervous citizen

Welcome to Berkeley. It's a great city in so many ways, and extrememly tiresome in other ways. I'm sorry you got the ticket and if it's your first offense jaywalking, I would definitely protest it. Tickets are eagerly and willy nilly handed out here. This is encouraged by the city for the revenue. I received a ticket once (on Allston) by a meter maid who was seated in her vehicle behind me as I put money into the meter. She saw me put in the money, and saw the meter was broken. I went to the post office for 15 minutes (1 hour parking allowed by law when the meter is broken, came back, and found I had a ticket. I wrote the city a letter, citing the meter maid's name etc. The city never responded, but got rid of the ticket.

Another time, on Vine street, in front of a restaurant, a meter maid drove around each time a new car parked to ticket people who parked even briefly in front of a broken meter, fully knowing the meter was broken and each person had put in the first quarter. This happened twice in one hour!! When I told the meter maid about the broken meter, she said it was not her concern and people could contest the ticket, despite the law allowing people to park for one hour on a broken meter. I spoke with the restaurant owner who said cars had been systematically getting ticketed for several days.

So, living in Berkeley is truly a blessing in many ways, but there is a price that the city exacts with some very questionable, sometimes short-sighted, policies. Perhaps your jaywalking was dangerous, I don't know, but no doubt you have been deterred and it will not hurt to write a letter protesting the $123 ticket. Good Luck!! Sympathetic mom

If the jaywalking took place, you have to pay the ticket. I personally found jaywalkers highly annoying years ago when I was trying to train my daughter in street safety. ''Mom, why is this person crossing at a red light? Why can he do that? I thought we shouldn't.'' My reply always was ''No he shouldn't, it is not safe. He just decided to do it anyway, but if an officer were around, he would give him a ticket.'' So if you consider the $123 a fine for all the times you guys jaywalked without getting a ticket over the past few years, it is probably a good deal after all. Anonymous

A $123 ticket is cheaper than a casket. Think of it that way! Can't speak to jaywalking, but my husband has gotten a few driving violations recently (failure to signal when changing lanes and driving five miles over the speed limit) after not getting any in 15 or so years. He has successfully fought both -- got the failure to signal ticket reduced and the speeding ticket dropped. So, it never hurts to try. -anon

Dear Cynthia: Regardless of whether your husband wants to take the time to fight it or if he wants to pay it, it's something that you cannot ignore. I've worked in traffic court and I've seen these ''simple'' tickets grow into serious messes. In my experience, most people pay the fine because most of these tickets are infractions and you don't have to report infraction convictions on most employment applications. If your husband doesn't object to jaywalking but would like the fine reduced, he may ask the traffic judge/commissioner in person or in writing for a reduced fine. If the fine reduction is not granted but you have financial hardships, you may ask for community service in lieu of the fine or to have the fine split up into monthly payments. good luck

Wow, it's only $123? 12 years ago I got a ticket for walking against a don't walk sign in Walnut Creek. I was peeved. Went to court, and apparently WC doesn't have enough real crime to go after and this is a convenient way to get revenue. 12 years ago, my fine was just over $200, and at least half the people in court that day were in for the same reason as I. As for the judge caring or being lenient? Hah! *grumble*