Home>Articles>Gov. Newsom Signs Bill Decriminalizing Jaywalking
Assemblyman Philip Y. Ting who introduced AB 1215.

Gov. Newsom Signs Bill Decriminalizing Jaywalking

This should have been looked at through a public safety lens, rather than a ‘this hurts poorer people more’ angle

By Evan Symon, October 3, 2022 1:01 pm

Governor Gavin Newsom just signed a bill to decriminalize jaywalking, with the law to begin in 2023.

According to Assembly Bill 2147, authored by Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), peace officers would be prohibited from giving pedestrians tickets for jaywalking unless there is an immediate danger of collision with a moving vehicle or other device moving exclusively by human power and would make it legal to cross a street when not at a crosswalk or against the crosswalk light when it is not an immediate hazard to do so. AB 2147 would also require the Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol to submit a report on statewide pedestrian-related crash data, with a specific note on how the new changed pedestrian safety.

Assemblyman Ting authored the bill, also known as the Freedom to Walk Act, because of the high costs of fines that jaywalking can bring, unfairly affecting poorer people. Ting also championed the bill as helping encourage more people to walk rather than drive for environmental reasons.

“It should not be a criminal offense to safely cross the street,” said Assemblyman Ting of his bill. “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 Plus, we should be encouraging people to get out of their cars and walk for health and environmental reasons.”

Ting has attempted to end jaywalking for the last several years. A previous bill that tried to end jaywalking, AB 1238, was introduced last year. However, despite moving up through committees and being passed by both houses, Governor Newsom ultimately vetoed the bill due to concerns over the bill worsening pedestrian safety. The governor did however say the issue was important, and gave leeway saying that he couldn’t support the bill in its current form.

AB 2147 signed into law following previous Governor veto

A frustrated Ting reworked the bill, including giving a refocus on public safety. Specifically, the wording of “unless a reasonably careful person would realize there is an immediate danger of collision with a moving vehicle or other device moving exclusively by human power” was clarified, reigning in the AB 1238 language and making it more clear that just walking across the road for whatever reason wasn’t decriminalized, as well as adding in the safety study to make sure that pedestrian accident rates didn’t go up as a result.

The change worked with AB 2147. While a significant number of Republicans and Democrats still opposed the bill due to lingering safety concerns, as evidenced by the 51-16 with 13 abstentions Assembly vote in August, the clarifications were enough for Newsom, who signed the bill into law during the weekend.

While now on the books to become law next year, many safety advocates noted that the bill may cost lives.

“There are still a lot of concerns over this,” lawyer Mark Roth, who has consulted on jaywalking offenses, told the Globe on Monday. “We shouldn’t be looking at this through a ‘this hurts poorer people more’ angle. We need to see it through a public safety lens. Crossing the street when moving cars are near is, and I shouldn’t even have to say this, incredibly dangerous. We have crosswalks for a reason when traffic picks up. And this law now banks on people correctly judging when it is safe or not, which doesn’t exactly have a 100% success rate. Pedestrians may misjudge, drivers could be distracted, pedestrians could pause or fall with a car coming closer. There are a lot of variables. This isn’t exactly sitting right with a lot of people.”

AB 2147 is expected to come into law on January 1, 2023.

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11 thoughts on “Gov. Newsom Signs Bill Decriminalizing Jaywalking

  1. It may come off as almost quaint in our current free-for-all crime era with vagrants running around doing drugs and pooping in the streets but this law also removes another ‘probable cause’ reason to detain someone who may be running away from or otherwise involved in a much more serious crime. But what do you expect from a legislature that seems bound and determined to create as much urban chaos as possible?

  2. How is it that these politicians are running around with their hair on fire about “Vision Zero” and all their stats about pedestrians getting run over all the time, but… this… ? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  3. So we’re allowing Darwin to do his job.
    Jaywalking and staring at a phone screen = one organ donor and more front end work for the local body shop.

  4. What next? Lawsuits claiming minorities are run over disproportionally? Criminal charges for running over someone who jumps out in front of you? But of course!

  5. I can’t wait to see what this does to our car insurance rates. Even if some stoner walks out in front of a car jaywalking, the stoner will sue the driver of the car, and the insurance company will pay out.

    Ever notice that every cockeyed bill that comes from the Democrats is framed in “under served communities” and “people of color”?

    Coming up next from the Democrats, allowing pedestrians and bicyclists to use the freeway lanes.

  6. As a longstanding 20+ mile per week walker, I fully support this reform, which treats pedestrians, the ones at risk, as adults instead of children, by letting us use our own judgment. This has nothing to do with vagrancy and can enhance, rather than reduce, pedestrian safety, because the safest time and place to cross a given street is when and where there is no conflicting traffic.

    1. @ John Elton, I don’t understand. You claim you walk 20+ miles a week, but it’s too much for you to walk to an intersection or crosswalk?

  7. If I see someone on the sidewalk who looks like they are even close to contemplating walking in front of my car jaywalking, they are getting the horn, LOUD AND LONG. I’m not going to have someone ruining my driving record and damaging my car with their idiocy. If they don’t like it, then they should reconsider voting for Democrats.

  8. I would like to see a lawyers opinion. If it is legal to jay walk then it must be the drivers fault if the pedestrian gets run over?

  9. An earlier comment made a good point. The question involved the.potential for expanded driver related injury liability now that jaywalking will no longer be illegal in California. Previously a jaywalker could still sue for jaywalking injuries, but such a case could be difficult in most situations. That was also due to the injured party being subject to their own comparative fault and negligence. If jaywalking will no longer be a prohibited act, and injuries do occur, the driver could potentially face more legal and financial liability. Not to mention possible staged accidents, although that could be quite dangerous and stupid. Yet the far larger issue will be if we see more catastrophic injuries and deaths as a result of this new law. This law may be another example of social engineering and emotion driven political policy, not common sense or evaluating real life consequences.

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