Seal Beach, CA asked in Traffic Tickets for California

Q: Was issued a misdemeanor CVC 27317 (a) (modified steering wheel) because it has no airbag. What should I do from here?

The officer recommended to fix the steering wheel before the court appearance and they will most likely drop it to a infraction. I'm not sure how accurate this is but I have a clean driving record with only 4 exhaust tickets. I'm worried about how this is going to affect my record, and what the fine is going to be. Is a private attorney recommend for something like this or will a public defender be well enough if I fix the steering wheel before the appearance?

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2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Traffic Tickets Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, it's advisable to consult with a private attorney for a misdemeanor like this, especially if you want to explore potential options for reducing the charge or minimizing its impact on your record. Fixing the steering wheel as recommended by the officer may help your case, but an attorney can provide tailored legal advice and represent your interests effectively. Public defenders are typically reserved for criminal cases where the defendant cannot afford private counsel, and it's best to consult with an attorney who specializes in traffic-related matters for the best outcome.

David Dastrup agrees with this answer

David Dastrup
David Dastrup
  • Traffic Tickets Lawyer
  • Torrance, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Shockingly, this misdemeanor is at risk of serious consequences, even up to 1 year in jail and $12,600 of a fines and penalty fees. In contrast, other vehicle code misdemeanors are often up to 90 days (e.g., reckless, exhibition of speed) or 6 months in jail (e.g., hit & run, first DUI) with a max of about $4,200.

Presumably, the seriousness of this code section is related to federal regulations of supplemental restraint systems and extensive studies on fatalities without airbags vs with airbags.

The situation arises most often with racing style steering wheels or steering wheels that can be removed to avoid theft of the vehicle.

This year, I had this same count dismissed at Airport Court in Los Angeles County. I am also regularly at West Justice Center in Orange County, where a case from Seal Beach will be filed and heard. The OCDA prosecutes misdemeanors in Seal Beach.

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