A new law signed on Friday will now allow Californians to legally jaywalk without being ticketed.
Pedestrians can now cross the street outside of an intersection without breaking the law as long as it is safe to do so.
The bill, AB 2147, also known as The Freedom To Walk Act, was introduced by Assemblymember Phil Ting and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The law will take effect on Jan. 1, 2023.
“It should not be a criminal offense to safely cross the street,” said Ting. “When expensive tickets and unnecessary confrontations with police impact only certain communities, it’s time to reconsider how we use our law enforcement resources and whether our jaywalking laws really do protect pedestrians.”
Under the new law, officers can cite a jaywalker “only when a reasonably careful person would realize there is an immediate danger of a collision.”
Proponents say the law is a win in decriminalizing jaywalking, for which tickets are disproportionately given to low-income individuals or minorities who typically cannot afford to pay the tickets.
“No longer will law enforcement be able to stop people who are safely crossing the street and burden them with citations and heaps of debt,” said Zal Shroff, senior staff attorney at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. “For too long, our jaywalking laws were used as a pretext to stop and harass people, especially low-income people and people of color. The reforms enacted in AB 2147 will put an end to that and, in doing so, make all of California safer for pedestrians.”
Supporters say lower-income communities typically do not have the funding or infrastructure to provide safe crosswalks, while the new law could also prevent a jaywalking arrest from turning serious or fatal, citing incidents in San Clemente, the Bay Area and Sacramento over the past few years.