California Motor Vehicle Code 21703
Following Too Closely
California vehicle code 21703 requires you to leave a safe distance between you and the car in front of you. This distance will vary according to speeds, road conditions, traffic congestion and weather. The standard that the courts look at is whether your distance is "reasonable and prudent" for the circumstances. If you are cited, and go to court to fight the ticket, the judge will determine if the distance between your car and the car in front of you were far enough to be considered reasonable and prudent.
Drivers caught tailgating will receive a ticket, have points added to their license, and have to pay fines. After fines, various fees and court costs, you could easily spend $400 or more fighting the ticket. The added points on your license could also make your insurance rates go up.
Tailgating tickets are handed out every day on busy California streets. Many drivers don't realize the dangerousness of driving too close and get irritated when they are pulled over for it. Drivers who tailgate are typically inattentive and in a hurry. They don't look for road hazards and other potential obstacles ahead. If the driver in front of the tailgater were to brake suddenly, the tailgater would not have time to stop. This could be a deadly mistake, and courts take CVC 21703 citations seriously.
The standard here is subjective. There's no set distance to explain reasonable and prudent, it all depends on road conditions and officer observation. If you are given a ticket for this offense, it will be the officer's opinion versus your own opinion. Typically, the judge will side with the officer. Cops are extremely busy, and very few judges will believe that your officer pulled you over and gave you a ticket without a good reason.
Following the two-second rule is a good judge of your distance. If there is a two to three second gap between your car and the one in front of you, then you should be far enough away so long as the roads are dry and visible.
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