According to the State of California’s Department of Motor Vehicle’s Driver Handbook, after a crash, you should move your vehicle out of the traffic lane if no one is injured or killed.
Many accidents are just fender benders causing minor damage to the car and no injuries save the stress on the old ticker. Right after it happens and the cars are still in the roadway, many motorists wonder if it legal to move their car? After all, don’t they need to do an accident evaluation?
Just using common sense says that if you are still in danger of being struck by leaving your car in one of the lanes of traffic, then it would be good to move the car to the side of the road. But, many times the drivers don’t because they are confused about the law. Police want people to be safe, and the law is behind that. Police investigators can reconstruct the accident even after the cars have been moved.
California Law on Moving a Vehicle After an Accident
Not only can you, but California Law requires the driver of a car that has been in an accident and is impeding traffic to move the vehicle out of traffic (if you were not injured). The primary purpose is to keep people safe and to avoid secondary crashes and the next reason is so that traffic can proceed without undue delay.
California Vehicle Code Section 22651 requires a peace officer to remove a vehicle that is impeding traffic, so if the motorist doesn’t do it, the police will. The exception is if moving the car will endanger any injured occupant of the vehicle or if someone in the vehicle has died.
What this means is that when you get into an accident where the cars are still on the road, then you can driver yours to the side of the road and wait for police without fear of getting in trouble with the law.
In a rear-end accident in April, 2019, a Florida Highway Patrol Helicopter spotted two cars that collided on Brandon Boulevard approaching the onramp to I-75 and had stopped in one of the middle lanes. A video shows several near misses that could have caused serios injuries, especially one near miss involving a motorcycle. This poignantly illustrates how important it is to remove the cars from traffic.
If you were Injured:
One of the exceptions is if you are injured, then you are not required to move the vehicle, but if you can still drive and are able to do so, then it’s still ok to move the car. Also, if the car is disabled, then obviously you can’t drive it off to the side, and in those cases it’s ok to get it pushed off the road or to call a tow truck.
If you do nothing and police arrive, you won’t be in any trouble for not moving your disabled vehicle, but California law allows the police to move the vehicle without your consent.
The bottom line? The best thing to do is to move the car out of the road for everyone’s safety, and you won’t be given a ticket or be in trouble for moving the car.
If you were injured in a crash anywhere in Los Angeles or southern California contact our Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer today for a free and confidential consultation.