2019 California Code
Vehicle Code - VEH
DIVISION 11 - RULES OF THE ROAD
CHAPTER 13 - Vehicular Crossings and Toll Highways
ARTICLE 3 - Tolls and Other Charges
(a) An authorized emergency vehicle is exempt from any requirement to pay a toll or other charge on a vehicular crossing, toll highway, or high-occupancy toll (HOT) lane, including the requirements of Section 23301, if all of the following conditions are satisfied:
(1) The authorized emergency vehicle is properly displaying an exempt California license plate, and is properly identified or marked as an authorized emergency vehicle, including, but not limited to, displaying an external surface-mounted red warning light, blue warning light, or both, and displaying public agency identification, including, but not limited to, “Fire Department,” “Sheriff,” or “Police.”
(2) (A) The vehicle is being driven while responding to or returning from an urgent or emergency call, engaged in an urgent or emergency response, or engaging in a fire station coverage assignment directly related to an emergency response.
(B) For purposes of this paragraph, an “urgent” response or call means an incident or circumstance that requires an immediate response to a public safety-related incident, but does not warrant the use of emergency warning lights. “Urgent” does not include any personal use, commuting, training, or administrative uses.
(C) Notwithstanding subparagraph (A), an authorized emergency vehicle, when returning from an urgent or emergency call, or from being engaged in an urgent or emergency response, or from engaging in a fire station coverage assignment directly related to an emergency response, shall not be exempt from any requirement to pay a toll or other charge imposed while traveling on a HOT lane.
(3) The driver of the vehicle determines that the use of the toll facility shall likely improve the availability or response and arrival time of the authorized emergency vehicle and its delivery of essential public safety services.
(b) If the operator of a toll facility elects to send a bill or invoice to the public agency for the use of the toll facility by an authorized emergency vehicle, exempt pursuant to subdivision (a), the fire chief, police chief, county sheriff, head of the public agency, or his or her designee, is authorized to certify in writing that the authorized emergency vehicle was responding to or returning from an emergency call or response and is exempt from the payment of the toll or other charge in accordance with this section. The letter shall be accepted by the toll operator in lieu of payment and is a public document.
(c) An authorized emergency vehicle that does not comply with this section is not exempt from the requirement to pay a toll or other charge on a toll highway, vehicular crossing, or HOT lane. Upon information and belief of the toll operator that an authorized emergency vehicle is not in compliance with this section, the fire chief, police chief, county sheriff, head of the public agency, or his or her designee, upon the written request of the owner or operator of the toll facility, shall provide or otherwise make accessible to the toll operator the dispatch records or log books relevant to the time period when the vehicle was in use on the toll highway, vehicular crossing, or HOT lane.
(d) This section does not prohibit or amend an agreement entered into between the owner or operator of a toll facility and a local emergency service provider that establishes mutually agreed upon terms for the use of the toll facility by the emergency service provider. This section shall not prohibit the owner or operator of a toll facility from having a policy that meets or exceeds this section. If at any time an emergency service provider or the owner or operator of a toll facility opts to terminate an agreement regarding the payment and processing of tolls or other charges, this section shall apply to the emergency service provider and the toll facility. An agreement between an emergency service provider and the owner or operator of a toll facility does not exempt other emergency service providers not named in the original agreement and the toll facility from the requirements of this section when those other emergency service providers use a toll facility in the jurisdiction of the owner or operator of the toll facility.
(e) Sections 23302 and 23302.5 do not apply to authorized emergency vehicles exempt pursuant to this section.
(f) As used in this section, “toll facility” includes a toll road, HOT lane, toll bridge, toll highway, a vehicular crossing for which payment of a toll or charge is required, or any other toll facility.
(Amended by Stats. 2017, Ch. 561, Sec. 255. (AB 1516) Effective January 1, 2018.)