How Well Do You Know California’s Vehicle Mirror Laws?

by Staff | June 27th, 2022

Mirrors are a critical element in any motor vehicle. They allow the driver to see at multiple angles behind them without turning their head from the road. Mirrors also enable drivers to pay proper attention to the car’s surroundings.

Without functional mirrors, driving any type of vehicle is hazardous. For this reason, it is critical to keep your mirrors in good shape and compliant with all local laws. Learn about car mirror safety, California’s vehicle mirror laws, and how compliance helps keep you and others safe on the road.

California Legislation on Vehicle Mirrors

Division 12, Chapter 4 of the California Vehicle Code (CVC) contains all relevant laws and regulations regarding mirror usage on motor vehicles in the state.

According to CVC 26709, all motor vehicles must feature two or more rearview mirrors. One of the two mirrors must be on the driver’s side. The second mirror can be located anywhere else, but it must provide the driver with a clear view of the vehicle’s rear. Both mirrors must allow the driver to see clearly for at least 200 feet.

All motorcycles must feature at least one rearview mirror.

Vehicles with obstructed rear views

A few exceptions to these general guidelines exist, primarily for buses, trolley coaches, and vehicles towing other vehicles. Exceptions also pertain to automobiles with an obstructed rear view without passengers, such as vehicles with no rear windshield.

These vehicles are still legally required to have at least two mirrors. They must feature at least one side-mounted rearview mirror on each side of the vehicle per CVC 26709(b).

Autonomous vehicles

California vehicle mirror legislation does not apply to autonomous vehicles if the human driver inside cannot physically operate the vehicle. The CVC 38750 defines an autonomous vehicle as any vehicle “equipped with autonomous technology” meeting the SAE Driving Automation Level 3, 4, or 5 specifications.

For example, a remote-controlled construction vehicle with no cockpit for human operators would be exempt from the mirror laws. In contrast, a regular passenger car with self-driving modes would not.

Is it Legal to Hang Objects from the Rearview Mirror?

California does not legally allow you to hang decorative items, air fresheners, pendants, face masks, and other objects onto the interior rearview mirror. The experienced California car accident lawyers at Berg Injury Lawyers recommend playing it safe and removing these items when driving in the Golden State.

The CVC 26708 (2) explicitly forbids obstructing the driver’s view through the side window or windshield. Although hanging objects from your rearview mirror may not necessarily obstruct your view of the rear, a law enforcement officer may consider it an obstruction of your clear view through the windshield, potentially resulting in a ticket.

What Are the Consequences of Violating California Mirror Laws?

Breaking the California Vehicle Code’s rearview mirror provisions is a minor infraction. The typical punishment is a small fine; however, different jurisdictions can add additional fees and penalties.

A mirror law fine is referred to as a non-parking infraction, which stipulates that you have 20 days to pay the fine, starting from the date of issuance of your penalty assessment mail. Failure to pay on time results in late fees, including a 50% upcharge of your original penalty. For example, if you received a $185 fine, not paying within 20 days increases the amount owed to $277.50.

If you were injured in an accident involving a vehicle with improperly placed or missing mirrors, contact the attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers to handle your case. We can examine the circumstances of your accident to determine if the mirror infraction caused the accident and help you seek compensation for any injuries or damages you suffered due to the driver’s negligence.

Get Legal Help for Your Car Accident Injuries

If you are injured in an auto accident, we will use our more than 40 years of legal experience to help you pursue maximum compensation for your injuries. Don’t take on the insurance company alone, contact Berg Injury Lawyers today for a free, confidential consultation.