How Serious Is Jaywalking, Anyway?
Most people picture someone darting across a street when they think of jaywalking. The truth is, jaywalking encompasses much more. Officially, a person is considered to be jaywalking when they violate laws that pertain to a pedestrian. Although it is considered a fairly minor offense, it can still net the offender monetary fines.
What Is Prohibited?
When you decide to walk somewhere, you are a pedestrian. When you choose to walk on public sidewalks or roadways, you are agreeing to obey to any laws in your locality that apply to pedestrians. For example, you cannot cross the street when the flashing light on the other end of the crosswalk is telling you “Don’t Walk.”
Many jurisdictions have their own laws regarding pedestrians, but there are those that are pretty common everywhere. For instance, when there is no marked crosswalk, an area between two street corners that’s 10 to 15 feet wide is considered an unmarked crosswalk. In some areas, you can cross wherever you like if there are no crosswalks present, but must yield to vehicles.
In most localities, pedestrians are not permitted to walk on the street when there are sidewalks present. This means that unless there are barricades or signs prohibiting pedestrian traffic on a sidewalk, you are not permitted to walk in the road.
Laws Specific to Georgia
In the state of Georgia, jaywalking is not a legal term included in any code. In most cases, a pedestrian can cross the road anywhere they like as long as they yield to traffic. This includes in areas where a crosswalk is present. Pedestrians may not, however, cross an intersection diagonally unless there is a traffic-control device that authorizes that movement.
One question that is often asked with regards to crossing or jaywalking is what happens when a pedestrian is on a sidewalk and comes to an alley or driveway. In these instances, the pedestrian has the right of way, but it is always recommended that the pedestrian look for cars before deciding to proceed.
Because there is no official law against what most people call jaywalking in the state, it is difficult to discuss possible penalties. If a pedestrian fails to yield for a vehicle or poses some type of risk to themselves or others due to their behavior, they may be cited for a specific infraction and penalized accordingly if found guilty.
While there is no law against jaywalking in Georgia, it is always in a pedestrian’s best interest to look out for vehicles. Never assume that the driver of a car sees you before you cross the road. Always make eye contact and be sure of what the driver is doing before you proceed into the road. It’s a far better choice to wait a minute or two in order to maintain your safety than to dart into the road without regard.
If you have been arrested for a crime in Atlanta, even a seemingly minor infraction like crossing the street inappropriately, reach out to our experienced criminal defense attorneys. We will put our experience to work for you and help you defend your rights, your reputation and your freedom.