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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This may sound silly but I've searched the web up and down for an answer and have proven unsuccessful.

Do California Vehicle Code Violations apply when off-roading?

I ask because I am being accused of scratching someones Mitsubishi Lancer with my Jeep Wrangler whilst off-roading in the desert. Their claim: I violated California Vehicle Code section 21703:21703, aka I made an "unsafe lane change."
Mind you, this was in the middle of a desert where there are no roads! That's why its called off-roading. How could I have switched lanes when there are no lanes to begin with??

Basically I just want to know if I can fight this. Seems pretty ridiculous to me.
 

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For starters, if you are in the desert and on BLM land, you can't just be where there are no roads. You are legally restricted to established roads and trails, as well as desert washes provided there are no other land protections such as wilderness areas or other closed areas. National forests have their own set of rules and have maps of their open routes available at Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUM) There is virtually no "off roading" anywhere on public lands with the exception of sand dune areas and other areas designated as such.

Sounds like you didn't get cited by a law enforcement officer, so sounds like you are being sued in small claims court? If so you can document your actions and let the judge decide. If you were cited, you can fight it and let the judge decide or hope the LEO doesn't show up at the trial.

A Mitsubishi Lancer doesn't sound like much of an "off road" vehicle to get tangled up with. The real question is... were you in the wrong?
 

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Were you in a OHV area? If you were in open desert OHV and you hit someones vehicle, that's on you. If there are no lanes you can't make an unsafe lane change. Let them turn it into their insurance company and deal with them. The less you say the better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for your response. You're right about the road thing. It was a trail, I just don't think of it as a road, especially not a road with lanes since it's all dirt.

I don't think I am at fault, there is no damage to my vehicle and at no point did I feel like I had hit his car. The damage he claimed was caused by me looks more to me like it could have been caused by some desert brush. But even then, it's his word against mine. So say I do get accused of causing it and my word isn't good enough... I still want to fight this. Because ya, like you said, his Lancer had no place being out there for one.

But again, call it what you will, the trail had no lanes. So how could I be accused of making an unsafe lane change with no lanes?
 

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If you honestly believe you were not responsible for the damage, Id tell him to go pound sand.

But, if you did, accept it and take care of it. Im a firm believer in karma.
 

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Also, Ive rubbed my fair share of desert brush. I cant see a scenario where desert brush will cause the same damage as contact with another vehicle. Desert brush shouldnt cause more than minor scratches ehich should buff out. If theres actual body damage, well.....karma.
 

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Doesn't seem like an off roading situation if a Lancer was on the road. The town that I live, we have lots of dirt roads, many not very suitable for cars, but nonetheless they are roads (they have street names) and theoretically traffic laws apply.
 

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Let's see, a Jeep Wrangler vs a Mistu Lancer. Lancer claims scratches. Do they state how high the scratches on the Lancer are? What part of the Wrangler is supposed to have caused the scratches - front plastic flexible fender, rear plastic flexible flare?

Were they going in the same direction as you or in the opposite direction? Did they claim this immediately or after both vehicles had left the area. Did you even see said Lancer before the claim was made. What area were both vehicles in at the time of the incident? (Flat land, washes, rocks?)

If they were on the left side of you and going in the same direction, were they attempting to pass? If so it could have been an unsafe pass. If they were on the right side and you passed them, you would have seen them, goes back to a previous question of whether you saw them before the claim.

How did you receive the claim - BLM, local LEO or the driver of the other vehicle?

These are all questions that need to be asked and answered.

If you were in an area that required four wheel drive, I'm not sure how they got there in a low slung car. And if the area is controlled by the BLM, doesn't the National Park Service handle disputes? Local road laws do not apply on Federal Land.

There is a post in the TJ section about an accident involving a TJ on the George Washington Parkway and it was investigated by the NPS, not Maryland Troopers.

It would seem to me that if you had brushed against another vehicle hard enough to scratch the paint, that it would leave some marks on your vehicle as well, most likely the flares since they are the widest part of the vehicle. If there are no such marks on your Jeep, you should document that with photos.
 

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In the majority of circumstances, the Federal Government permits the local jurisdictions to enforce traffic laws (and other State statutes). This could be city Police or the county Sheriff. This is not always the case, with notable exceptions being military installations and some popular national parks. National Forest land is almost always enforced by the Sheriff.
 

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If it didn't happen , then it's all on him .

If it didn't happen , then it is all on him . Personally , if it's not a Jeep , I keep my distance . On the other hand , I'll give a hand to any Jeep owner .:bop:
 
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