How Jaywalking Has Changed in California


Until recently, crossing the street in a place that wasn’t a designated crossing area was illegal in California. At the time, if you were caught jaywalking, you would be issued a citation and have to pay a fine. That changed in 2023.

Finally, someone looked at how people crossed California’s roads and decided that while marked crossing areas remain important, it’s also important to allow people to make their own decisions. They decided that no one should be required to walk down the sidewalk for a considerable distance just so that they could find a proper crosswalk, cross the street, and basically backtrack their steps. This was time-consuming and irritating.

Thanks to alterations in California’s jaywalking law, which is The Freedom to Walk Act, people are now allowed to use their own judgment when it comes to crossing the street. The newly altered law allows you to cross the street wherever you like, but it does clearly state that you have to be smart before you step onto the road. The law clearly states that you should only cross a street in places where “a reasonably careful person would realize that there is an immediate danger of a collision.”

The way the law is written indicates that if you are crossing the street in an area that’s not a crosswalk during heavy traffic, are crossing near a blind corner where a turning vehicle wouldn’t be able to see you, or actually step in front of an oncoming vehicle, and you could still get in trouble for jaywalking. However, as long as you aren’t challenging traffic and aren’t putting yourself or others in obvious and immediate danger, you are free to cross any California road when and where you please.