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Vehicle Code 38300 CVC – Disobeying Traffic Control Device & Fail To Obey Traffic Sign, Signal


Under California Vehicle Code § 38300 (CVC), it is a violation for a driver to disregard any traffic sign, signal, or traffic control device that has been lawfully installed by federal, state, or local authorities. This statute aims to ensure compliance with traffic regulations and promote road safety. Drivers who fail to adhere to these signs, signals, or devices may face legal consequences.

California Vehicle Code § 38300 (CVC) empowers federal, state, and local authorities to utilize a range of signs, signals, and devices to inform and guide traffic. Examples of such traffic instruments include yield signs, stop signs, pedestrian crossing markings, speed limit posts, school zone markings, traffic control lights, railroad crossing signs, turn restrictions, and do not enter signs. It is important to note that this statute specifically applies to signs and signals placed in compliance with CVC 38280.2.

The term “signs, signals, and devices” in California Vehicle Code § 38300 (CVC) includes various traffic guideposts that are implemented by federal, state, or local authorities. These may comprise stop signs, speed limits, and “do not enter” signs, among others. This section effectively authorizes authorities to utilize these signals and markings to instruct and direct traffic in order to reduce the chances of accidents and promote safe driving practices. By heeding these traffic signs, signals, and devices, drivers can avoid potential legal repercussions and improve safety on the road.

38300 CVC: It is unlawful for the driver of any vehicle to disobey any sign, signal, or traffic control device placed or maintained pursuant to Section 38280.

Elements – Failure To Obey Traffic Sign

Under California Vehicle Code 38300 CVC, the elements of the crime of disobeying a sign, signal, or traffic control device are as follows:

  • The defendant must be the driver of a vehicle.
  • The defendant disobeys a sign, signal, or traffic control device.
  • The sign, signal, or traffic control device must be lawfully placed or maintained by federal, state, or local authorities.

Penalties For Disobeying A Traffic Control Device

A driver who violates this law will receive a ticket, typically amounting to $238, and one point will be added to their valid driver’s license. If a motorist accumulates a certain number of points within a 1, 2, or 3-year period, the DMV has the authority to declare them a negligent operator and may suspend or revoke their driving privileges.


It is important to note that the cost of the traffic ticket, which is $238, does not include additional fines and fees, making the overall cost higher than the ticket amount.

Furthermore, a driver can choose to attend traffic school after receiving a CVC 38300 ticket. Completing traffic school means that the DMV points will not be visible on the driver’s public driving record, preventing insurance companies from seeing them. However, the points will still be recorded on the motorist’s DMV record for the purpose of determining if their license should be suspended or revoked.

How To Fight Traffic Ticket in California?

When facing a citation for violating Vehicle Code 38300 CVC (disobeying a traffic control device), there are several defenses that a person can consider. Here are a few common defenses to such a citation:

  • Lack of notice or visibility: The defendant may argue that the traffic control device was not clearly visible or that they did not have sufficient notice of its presence. For example, if a sign was obstructed by foliage or improperly maintained, it may be difficult for the defendant to comply with the device.
  • Equipment failure or malfunction: The defendant may argue that their vehicle’s equipment malfunctioned, preventing them from obeying the traffic control device. For instance, if a traffic light is not functioning properly, it may be a valid defense if the defendant can prove they were unable to determine the appropriate course of action.
  • Emergency: In certain situations, the defendant may argue that their disobedience of the traffic control device was necessary to avoid harm or danger. For instance, if a driver needed to deviate from a designated route due to an emergency situation, such as avoiding an accident or seeking urgent medical attention, it may be considered a valid defense. Additionally, Drivers may use the defense that they were forced to ignore a sign or signal due to an emergency situation. For instance, a driver might claim that they had to disregard a sign in order to avoid a dangerous driver or to maneuver away from a cyclist behaving unpredictably.
  • Error in issuing a ticket: In some cases, the police may make mistakes when issuing a ticket. There are instances where law enforcement officers may inaccurately assess the situation that led to the ticket. For example, it is possible that authorities misunderstood and falsely claimed that a driver disobeyed a traffic sign. Therefore, it is a valid defense for the accused to prove that the police made an error, as they actually did obey the sign or signal.
  • Incorrect or ambiguous signage: The defendant may argue that the traffic control device or sign was incorrect, confusing, or ambiguous, leading to their violation. This defense relies on demonstrating that the sign or device was not placed or maintained in accordance with applicable standards.

It’s important to note that each case is unique, and the success of these defenses may depend on the specific circumstances and available evidence

Consequences of Traffic Control Device Ticket on your License

Failing to contest the ticket and paying the fine without seeking options such as traffic court or traffic school can lead to long-term consequences beyond the initial fine. It is advisable to explore all available options and seek legal guidance to mitigate these potential outcomes.

Higher Auto Insurance Rates

Insurance companies typically calculate premiums using algorithms or risk-based pricing models. One of the factors taken into consideration when assessing the level of risk is a traffic ticket for disobeying an official traffic control device, signal, or sign. Therefore, such a violation can potentially impact the cost of insurance premiums.

In California, receiving a traffic ticket for violating CVC 38300 can result in 1-2 points staying on your license for three years, leading to higher auto insurance rates. It’s important to note that some insurance companies may continue to raise your rates even after the points have expired, as they consider your overall driving history. This can create a significant financial burden. It is essential to understand the consequences of disobeying traffic signals and take steps to minimize potential harm to your license and insurance rates.

Avoid points to driver’s license with traffic school

Even if you have a clean criminal and driving record, it’s important not to let a ticket for a sign or traffic control device violation tarnish it. Even if you pay the fine and plead guilty, a point will still be added to your license.

Enrolling in a defensive driving class, also known as traffic school, is a beneficial choice for avoiding such situations. This course can help you reduce the points on your license associated with a traffic ticket. However, please note that this may not always be available for more serious charges or misdemeanor infractions. Nonetheless, it is typically an option for offenses like failure to yield or making an illegal U-turn.

If you are dealing with a traffic violation in court, the judge will inform you if attending a defensive driving class is an option for you. This is a highly effective method for avoiding accumulating points on your license and preventing an increase in your insurance premiums. It is important to avoid accumulating too many points within a year or two, as having more than three points within this timeframe can result in a suspended license. Furthermore, if you have unpaid tickets on your criminal record and are charged with a misdemeanor crime, you could potentially face months of jail time.


The consequences for individuals with a commercial license in California are even more severe. According to California traffic law, commercial drivers accumulate 1.5 points for each infraction, as opposed to the standard 1 point. This means that a 2-point infraction would result in 3 points on their driving record. If a commercial driver receives another citation within a year, their license will be suspended, and they will be prohibited from working for months or even years.

Please note that there is a separate traffic school fee involved in this process, which should not be paid as part of your bail or ticket fine.

To know about immigration consequences you can find the sources below:

Personal Injury Case

In California, if a driver violates a statute, they are considered “negligence per se.” This means that the driver would be automatically considered negligent if they:

  • Caused an injury in a car accident, and
  • Committed the violation by disobeying a traffic sign (contrary to CVC 38300) at the time of the accident.

Related Crimes

  • Failure to yield when making a left turn or U-turn – CVC 21801,
  • Illegal U-turn – CVC 22102, and
  • Coasting in neutral – CVC 21710
  • Running a Red Light (California Vehicle Code § 21453(a) VC)
  • Failure to Stop at a Stop Sign (California Vehicle Code § 22450(a) VC)
  • Failure to Obey Traffic Control Device (California Vehicle Code § 21461(a) VC)
  • Failure to Yield Right of Way (California Vehicle Code § 21800(a) VC)
  • Illegal U-turn (California Vehicle Code § 22103 VC)
  • Disobeying Traffic Signal (California Vehicle Code § 21453(c) VC)
  • Disobeying Street Signs (California Vehicle Code § 21461(b) VC)
  • Ignoring Lane Control Signs (California Vehicle Code § 21655 VC)

Speak With Criminal Defense Lawyer From Tabibnia Law Firm

Ignoring a traffic ticket is a risky decision, as it can result in increased fines and even license suspension. If you or someone you know is facing charges related to disobeying traffic signs, signals, or control devices, it is important to consult with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer without delay. Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Mr. Cyrus Tabibnia, from Tabibnia Law firm, has over 18 years of experience and is highly respected within the court system for his advocacy on behalf of his clients. To learn more about charges under vehicle code 38300 CVC and to schedule a free consultation, you can contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Cyrus Tabibnia at 866-713-2159.

The information provided in this blog is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice or a substitute for professional legal consultation. The content is accurate and up to date to the best of our knowledge, but laws and regulations may change and vary depending on specific circumstances. Therefore, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability of the information contained in this blog.

Legal References:

Section 38300, California Vehicle Code 

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia, also known as Shahrooz Tabibnia, is a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles, California. With a law degree from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, he has been practicing law since 2005 and holds license #237348. With over 18 years of experience, Cyrus specializes in various misdemeanor and felony criminal Law including Domestic Violence, Theft Crime, Sex crime, DUI & DWI, Personal Injury, Employment Law, and Cannabis & Marijuana Drugs Law. Being bilingual in English, Persian, and Spanish enables him to effectively communicate with a diverse range of clients. From 2014 to 2018, he served as a board member of the Iranian American Bar Association. An expungement attorney in Los Angeles who can assist you in clearing your criminal record in the state of California.

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