All freeway violations are not treated equally

Q. Dear Honk: The California Vehicle Code requires three-axle trucks to stay in the right lanes on freeways. Because some states do not have this law, out-of-state trucks are often the culprits; but now California trucks are increasingly the violators. This creates very hazardous conditions on some highways where trucks often move into the left lanes, cutting-off fast moving traffic. Why isn’t this enforced? A highway patrolman explained to me that it was because they don’t have enough personnel to do what needs to be done.

– Chris Hall, Palos Verdes Peninsula

A. That sounds about right, Chris.

Over the years, Honk has talked with more CHP officers than TV’s Broderick Crawford ever did, and they have told him the priority is going after traffic violators who could cost lives – most notably speeders, those not wearing seat belts or the ones who are drunk, drugged or distracted.

Officers get to make the call on who gets pulled over and for what (so long as it is a legal stop, of course) – and whether the citation book comes out. The buzz words are “officer’s discretion” – if Honk had a quarter for every time he heard that from an officer explaining a law and when a motorist would get pulled over, he could fund Santa‘s workshop.

Readers often complain to him as well about vehicles lacking front license plates, those with tinted front windows and ones carrying no passenger who shouldn’t be in the carpool lane.

The sight of any of these violations can flip-flop a smile on Honk’s handsome mug.

But, alas, each officer must decide whether to pull over the trucker in the wrong lane – is the driver merely being rude, or dangerous? – or go after that speeder up ahead.

HONKIN’ UPDATE: Back in October, Fountain Valley’s Linda Dunkelberger told Honk her toll roads account had been dinged six times by someone else’s car on the 73, 133 and 261 and it cost her $22.54. She disputed the charges and her account was suspended. After Honk mentioned Linda’s plight here in the ol’ column, she said the Transportation Corridor Agencies decided to refund her $121.78 – for all of the charges ever put on her account. It turns out, she told Honk, she was told that the TCA had figured out that another vehicle apparently had the same transponder configuration – and that owner didn’t know it.

Citing privacy laws, Eugene Fields, a TCA spokesman, declined to answer specific questions from Honk about Linda’s ordeal, but did say this:

“Generally, when a driver disputes a transponder-based charge, the transponder is deactivated,” he said in a statement. “Once deactivated, and assuming the toll is not paid within the designated grace period, our system captures and keeps images of the license plate until the dispute is resolved. The resolution process may include researching any future toll transactions and taking corrective action as needed, including identifying a faulty transponder, sending a new transponder, and crediting the customer’s account if necessary.”

Previously, Fields told Honk such errors are rare.

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How many of these driving tidbits did you know?

To ask Honk questions, reach him at He only answers those that are published. To see Honk online: Twitter: @OCRegisterHonk

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