California Mud Flap Laws

By Michelle Nati - Updated August 08, 2018
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highway traffic standstill image by palms from Fotolia.com

Mud flaps and splash guards are large pieces of rubber that mostly conceal the tires on cars and commercial vehicles including buses, trucks and utility vehicles. They sometimes feature a logo and are designed to protect both pedestrians and other vehicles on the road from water and debris produced by spinning tires by covering much of the tire. Most cars and trucks come stock with mud flap or fender protection.

California Mud Flap and Fender Laws

All vehicles require mud flaps or fenders of some kind, according to California Department of Transportation Vehicle Code 27600.

Code 27600 of the CVC states, "No person shall operate any motor vehicle having three or more wheels, any trailer, or semitrailer unless equipped with fenders, covers, or devices, including flaps or splash aprons, or unless the body of the vehicle or attachments thereto afford adequate protection to effectively minimize the spray or splash of water or mud to the rear of the vehicle and all such equipment or such body or attachments thereto shall be at least as wide as the tire tread."

There are exceptions to this rule. CVC 27600 doesn't apply to "vehicles exempt from registration, trailers and semitrailers having an unladen weight of under 1,500 pounds, or any vehicles manufactured and first registered prior to Jan. 1, 1971, having an unladen weight of under 1,500 pounds.”

Mud Flap Height Requirements

DOT mud flap regulations and fender laws become complicated with raised vehicles, as stock parts can no longer cover the tire and provide adequate protection from spray and debris. Law 27600 CVC does not give any specifics on mud flap height requirements, other than saying that they must provide sufficient coverage to block anything rotating tires can kick up. If you drive a raised vehicle, you are still required to have mud flaps that are low enough to the ground to stay in compliance with the law.

Violating California Mud Flap and Fender Laws

If a mud flap or fender does not provide sufficient coverage, is not mounted safely and securely to your car or truck, or you get caught without any debris protection whatsoever on your vehicle, you can be served with a "fix it" ticket by law enforcement. While this type of violation won't result in points on your record, it may include a fine. You may see a reduction or dismissal of the ticket fine if you correct the problem by installing the proper splash protection to your vehicle. Your ticket will indicate what the penalty is and how much time you have to correct the violation. Once it's fixed, law enforcement will sign a Certificate of Correction before your citation’s deadline date. At court, when you present the correction certificate and pay a dismissal fee, the court will then dismiss your case.

About the Author

Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.

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