New California law legalizes jaywalking

Starting in January, it will no longer be illegal to jaywalk in California, after Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill decriminalizing it and legalizing safe street crossings.

This means pedestrians can now cross the street outside an intersection or crosswalk without being ticketed as long as it is safe to do so. 

AB-2147, also known as The Freedom to Walk Act, was first introduced by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D- San Francisco), who argued jaywalking bills are arbitrarily enforced, and unequally impact poor people and people of color.

The bill defines when an officer can stop and cite a pedestrian for jaywalking - specified as only when a reasonably careful person would realize there is an immediate danger of a collision.

"It should not be a criminal offense to safely cross the street," said Ting. "When expensive tickets and unnecessary confrontations with police impact only certain communities, it’s time to reconsider how we use our law enforcement resources and whether our jaywalking laws really do protect pedestrians."


"Jaywalking laws were enacted in the 1930s by the then-emerging auto industry, which saw the number of deadly car accidents skyrocket in the prior decade and wanted to shift the blame from drivers to pedestrians. Over the years, street designs primarily considered the needs of drivers, failing to account for people who are not in cars," Ting said in a statement.

California has numerous cases in which a jaywalking stop has gone wrong. 

In September 2020, San Clemente Police killed Kurt Reinhold after pulling up to him and falsely accusing him of jaywalking. 

RELATED: Deputies argued over whether to stop Black man for jaywalking before fatally shooting him

In the Bay Area, Chinedu Okobi was killed nearly four years ago in Millbrae by San Mateo County deputies in an attempt to arrest him for jaywalking. 

And in 2017, Sacramento Police beat Nandi Cain after stopping him for jaywalking, causing serious injuries. 

The victims in each of these cases were Black, and video captured each incident. In addition, 2018-2020 data compiled by the California Racial and Identity Profiling Act shows Black Californians are severely overrepresented when it comes to being stopped for jaywalking, up to four-and-a-half times more than their white counterparts.

Up until 2018, it was illegal for people to cross the street at a traffic light when the pedestrian countdown meter began flashing.

The law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2023.

KTVU contributed to this report.