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Altamonte Springs Police Department
Monday September 13th, 2010 :: 11:51 a.m. EDT


Is Jaywalking Really a Crime? See email for full story.

What exactly is jaywalking and is it a crime? If you answered Jaywalking is a segment on the Tonight Show hosted by Jay Leno where Jay hits the streets and gives pop quizzes to sidewalk contestants technically you would be right, but actually not the answer I was looking for.

The word jaywalking originated in 1917 in Boston, Massachusetts from the word jay, which has a number of slang senses. The relevant one is a person who makes poor decisions. So pedestrians who foolishly ignored traffic regulations were nicknamed “Jaywalkers.”
In legal mumbo jumbo terms, jaywalking falls under Florida State Statue 316.130, titled “Pedestrian obedience to traffic control devices and traffic regulations.” In subsection number 11 it states, “Between adjacent intersections at which traffic control signals are in operation, pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.”

So is jaywalking a crime? Not exactly. The true definition of a crime would include punishment by imprisonment. You can’t go to jail for jaywalking, but it is punishable by a monetary fine. In Seminole county a pedestrian who chooses against safely crossing at a marked crosswalk can receive a uniform traffic citation in the amount of $64.50. The fine is payable within 30 days to the Clerk of the Court, and failure to pay could result in late fees and a suspended drivers license.

On the surface jaywalking may seem harmless and unobtrusive to other members of society, and compared to murderers, drug dealers, and kidnappers, I suppose you’re right. However, consider this: between 1975 and 2001 over 175,000 pedestrians died in the United States; and 78% of those fatalities were outside of intersections. Those are staggering statistics and hardly unobtrusive when you take into consideration the amount of resources law enforcement utilized to investigate each accident; not to mention the emotional devastation suffered from the motorists who struck the pedestrian darting across the roadway. Locally, there were five pedestrian fatalities in Seminole County in 2009, which is five too many.

Most people jaywalk because they are too impatient to wait for a cross signal. Ask yourself, is it worth the five minutes you might save to risk being killed or crippled by a car? Some say, “What’s the big deal, I can get across the street before an approaching car gets to me!” Sure, 99% of the time you probably can. Unless you trip, or slip, or drop your cell phone, or like most of the pedestrians killed misjudge the speed of the vehicle. Will any of these factors make you hesitate or stop? Did you know a vehicle at 40 mph travels 58.6 feet per second? If you hesitate or stop for even a split second, do you still think you’re safe?
Jaywalking is not a myth. It is a factual civil infraction created by legislature to ensure the safety of both pedestrians and motorists on the roadways. If you choose to disregard the law, there is a very good chance you will be stopped and ticketed. For those who believe a fine of $64.50 for illegally crossing the street is steep, consider this – Jaywalkers in Singapore for the first offense received a fine of $485.00, and repeat offenders are subject to a fine of $2,000.00 and up to six months in jail. Play it safe and follow the law by utilizing properly marked crosswalks.

Altamonte Springs Police Department
175 Newburyport Ave
Altamonte Springs, FL 32701

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 407-339-2441

Lt Darin Farber
COPS Section

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