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New Laws for Motorists
updated: Dec 21, 2012, 12:30 PM

Source: CHP

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - New rules that govern the California driving public will go in effect on January 1, 2013. These rules are the product of legislation passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. in 2012.

"The changes to California's traffic safety laws are designed to protect the motoring public," said California Highway Patrol (CHP) Commissioner Joe Farrow. "Citizens are encouraged to familiarize themselves with these new laws in advance of the new year. Adhering to the rules of the road may save your life, or the lives of your fellow motorists."

The following are summaries of some of the new laws taking effect January 1, 2013:

• Driving Under the Influence (AB 2020, Pan) The law no longer allows a person who has been arrested and is suspected of driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs, the option of a urine test. Prior to this change, a person had the option of submitting either urine or blood to determine the drug content of their blood.

• Charter-Party Carriers of Passengers: Alcoholic Beverages: Open Containers (AB 45, Chesbro) This new law prohibits underage drinking in charter-party carriers (limos, buses, etc.) and makes the carrier and driver responsible for communicating this to their passengers. The law also requires a designee, who is at least 25 years of age, to be present whenever there are passengers who are under 21 years of age on board the vehicle and alcohol is being transported. The designee shall be responsible for ensuring the rules are followed, and the safety of the underage passengers throughout the duration of the trip.

• Electronic Wireless Communications (AB 1536, Miller) This law allows California drivers to use hands-free technology to talk and text while driving. This will require the use of a device that is specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation to dictate, send or listen to a text-based communication. The device is required to also be used in a voice-operated, hands-free manner to be in compliance with the law.

•Financial Responsibility and Insurance (AB 1708, Gatto) Drivers will now have the option of providing proof of insurance and registration on an electronic device (smartphone, tablet, etc.), when it is requested by law enforcement.

•High Occupancy Toll Lanes (AB 2405, Blumenfield) This law creates the Choose Clean Cars Act, which allows cars with a Clean Air Vehicle Sticker free access to carpool lanes that are converted to High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes.

•Autonomous Vehicles (SB 1298, Padilla) This new law allows driverless cars to be operated on public roads for testing purposes, provided that each vehicle has a fully licensed and bonded operator in the driver's seat to take control if necessary. The bill also instructs the Department of Motor Vehicles to adopt regulations that govern the licensing, bonding, testing and operation of autonomous vehicle technology.

•Emergency Services: Seniors (SB 1047, Alquist) Similar to an AMBER Alert, the CHP would activate a "Silver Alert" upon request if a person, age 65 or older, is reported missing to a law enforcement agency and that agency determines that certain criteria is met. The criteria includes: the person is missing under unexplained or suspicious circumstances or the law enforcement agency believes the person is in danger due to age, health, mental or physical disability, environment or weather conditions; the person is in the company of a potentially dangerous person; or there are other factors indicating that the person may be in peril. Finally, there is information available, if given to the public, may assist in the safe recovery of the missing person.

•Driver License (AB 2189, Cedillo) This law allows a driver's license applicant who provides satisfactory proof that his or her presence in the United States is authorized under federal law, but who is not eligible for a social security account number, is eligible to receive an original driver's license if he or she meets all other qualifications for licensure.

•Automated Traffic Enforcement Systems (SB 1303, Simitian) This new law establishes consistency in the operations of red-light enforcement cameras throughout the state by requiring governmental agencies to follow specified guidelines regarding intersections, signage, and the notice to appear.

•License Plates: Obstruction or Alteration (AB 2489, Hall) This new law prevents the altering and positioning of license plates from its original markings and clarifies the penalty imposed for obscuring the readability of license plates.

•Child Passenger Restraints (AB 1452, Hill) Hospitals, clinics, and birthing centers will now be required to provide and discuss contact information regarding child safety seat requirements, installation, and inspection to parents and caregivers upon discharge of a child, if the child is less than eight years of age.

•There are also two new laws related to recreational off-highway vehicles. One (AB 1595, Cook) defines an off-highway motor vehicle to include a recreational off-highway vehicle (ROV) and establishes additional requirements governing its safe operation. The other law (AB 1266, Cook), which goes into effect July 1, 2013, prohibits a passenger in an ROV from riding in a seat location not designed and provided by the manufacturer. It also prohibits operation of the ROV if the passenger is not seated with both feet on the floorboard and able to grab the occupant handhold with the seat belt and shoulder belt or safety harness fastened.

•Additional Registration Fees (AB 1404, Feuer) This law authorizes three counties (Los Angeles, San Diego and San Bernardino) to increase vehicle registration fees to help fund vehicle theft programs. Increases would be from $1 to $2 for passenger vehicles, and $2 to $4 for commercial vehicles.

•Inflatable Restraint Systems (AB 1854, Brownley) This law makes it illegal for a person to knowingly distribute or sell a previously deployed air bag or component that will no longer meet the original equipment form, function or proper operation.

•Driving Under the Influence: Alcoholic Beverage or Drug (AB 2552, Torres) Although this change in the law does not take effect until January 1, 2014, it distinguishes whether an individual was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Ultimately this change, singling out drugs with its own subsection in the Vehicle Code, will make it easier to track the prevalence of drugged driving in California. This new law, coupled with the efforts requiring the use of Ignition Interlock Devices, will help reduce impaired driving throughout California.

These points are only a synopsis of some of the new laws adopted. For complete information on chaptered bills enacted in 2012, please refer to the Legislative Counsel website at www.LegInfo.ca.gov.

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 356446 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-21 01:07 PM

"•Additional Registration Fees (AB 1404, Feuer) This law authorizes three counties (Los Angeles, San Diego and San Bernardino) to increase vehicle registration fees to help fund vehicle theft programs. Increases would be from $1 to $2 for passenger vehicles, and $2 to $4 for commercial vehicle"

So the people who are being victimized are being extorted for simple basic police protection?


 COMMENT 356447 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-21 01:18 PM

Well, it says "to help fund vehicle theft programs" which is vague. I wonder what it really means. I doubt it means basic police protection.


 COMMENT 356453 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-21 01:54 PM

Why can't we have rules against CHP's with chips on their shoulders? I hear the craziest stories about some of these guys. Especially the younger ones.


 COMMENT 356454 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-21 01:56 PM

They better slow down adding on new rules. Most drivers in SB don't know the rules that are already in place. Like how to use a 4 way stop for instance. And the rules about cell phone use...


 COMMENT 356456P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-21 01:58 PM

I didn't know car thieves need special state help to steal cars.

At any rate, it looks like if the cops can't do their job just go to the State and the voila! There is a new tax to help save the day.


 COMMENT 356458 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-21 02:13 PM

Keep writing laws... They only pertain to those who follow the law, the rest can do whatever you want without reprecussion...
What a joke!


 COMMENT 356477 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-21 03:40 PM

I love the new Silver Alert!!! It's going to be very helpful and probably life saving!!


 COMMENT 356478 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-21 03:44 PM

About once a week I have a close encounter with someone who is turning without signaling. I don't know if turn signals are optional or required but the use of turn signals is certainly not enforced.


 COMMENT 356483P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-21 03:53 PM

I feel safer already!


 COMMENT 356488 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-21 04:13 PM

Has there ever been a year when they don't come out with new laws? When will it stop?!?


 BECKY agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-21 04:21 PM

All those in favor of a law that says that for every new law added, you have to condense or eliminate at least twice as much (2 related laws or twice as many words) from existing laws? Please raise your hands.

Many of our legislators don't get it that just passing more and more laws is NOT what we elected them to do. They mistake being busy for being effective. Effective would be to clean it up -- condense it, make it make more sense, eliminate contradictions and redundancy -- every time you propose legislation related to the same general topic. Please start electing better representatives.


 COMMENT 356492 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-21 04:24 PM

Doesn't everyone know that Corrections Corporation needs new customers? And this kind of legislation will provide them.

Capitalism! Profit off your mistakes. Profit off your illness. Profit off governance itself. Profit, profit and more profit. Arrest, arrest and more arrests. Gotta keep those cops employed, and corrections officers union who make the teachers union look like amateur hour.

And don't forget punish, punish and more punishment. That old Victorian era biblical wisdom. Punish them and lock them up and throw away the key, so the aforementioned entities can make a ............profit!


 COMMENT 356507P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-21 05:17 PM

Yep! Thanks Becky.
and Electronic Wireless Communications? I don't care if it's hands-free, it worsens driving skills.


 COMMENT 356517 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-21 05:49 PM

Barely anyone uses their lights on the pass especially if it's foggy with low visibility. The last rain we had a real bad accident here. Lucky if you could see 20 ft ahead of you. There were so many cars with no lights on passing all these officers directing slow traffic and not a single one of them stopped the cars and told them to turn on their lights. I was shocked. I wanted to roll down my window and yell at the cops to do their job!! When I turn off my street onto the pass in that weather I'm literally saying a prayer because if those lights aren't on I can't see you. Also, when I was turning onto the 101 heading South coming from the pass a probation officer turned right from Hollister where there is a big blatant NO TURN ON RED sign as oncoming traffic has an arrow onto 101. I had to slam on my breaks driving through my arrow because he nearly smacked right into me. And they're the ones in charge. I feel so much safer!!


 COMMENT 356607 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-22 07:25 AM

We are fortunate to have the ability to drive, to own our own personal vehicles. I am grateful for any law that makes drivers think about their actions behind the wheel. Now will y'all please learn to use your indicators, it's been the law for a year or two, and common courtesy and safety. If in doubt, indicate: lane changes, turns, merging into traffic, etc.


 COMMENT 356642 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-22 08:26 AM

BECKY... as long as people continue to do stupid things there will be laws ADDED to cover the new wrinkles we add to the things to legislate against. If people used common sense our laws would reflect that.


 COMMENT 356658P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-22 09:02 AM

There are too many drivers who need driving school.

There should be a new law that allows police to photograph the license plate of anyone they see who looks like they need to go to driving school. Then make them do it.

This would be much safer than pulling them over.


 COMMENT 356667 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-22 09:21 AM

Why no more urine test? I'm not one to drive under the influence of anything, but I do have an issue with only giving blood if for any reason I was suspected/detained.

Also, isn't there already a hands free law in place? Doesn't this new one seem a bit redundant? It seems like these laws overwrite a lot of the previous laws in place, rather than simply correcting them to as Becky put it, condense. There are so many laws, police don't even know most of them. When I was younger, out after curfew, the cop asked ME what the curfew laws were, scanning the back of my license to try to figure it out.


 COMMENT 356694 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-22 10:36 AM

Our Legislature in Sacramento is always stepping all over themselves to pass "new laws" usually ones that have some noble sounding purpose to justify their presence in Sacramento. That is why every year there are at lest 1300 new laws affecting virtually everything. That is why the California Codes are in over 30 volumes each one over an inch or two thick and containing dozens if not hundreds of laws. Californians shoud have placed a strict limit on the number of laws introduced by these legislators long ago. The number of legislators should also be reduced and the Districts they represent enlarged to cut the cost of government inluding the "staffs" and numerous perks given to these elected people. Finally every law should have a termination or "sunset clause" forcing periodic review of the "new laws" to see if they are any good at all and accomplish their ostensible purpose or create more problems than they solve!


 COMMENT 356875P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-23 12:17 AM

I just learned this and was wondering how many other people know about it. There is a "box" in my car that gathers data on the way that I drive. I asked at the dealership about it and they claimed that the data it collects is downloaded by them and used them as a aid to repairing the car. Now, I live in a neighborhood where there are alot of turns to be made and when I am out and there is no one to see my turn signal I don't signal. This little box makes a note of that. So, if I am involved in a accident that involves making a turn, they can, but they claim that they don't, use the information previously recorded to point out that in regular driving (thru the neighborhood), I don't use my turn signal. They also record hard stops, fast acceleration, and speeds over 70 mph.


 COMMENT 356962 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-23 01:13 PM

I seem to have accidentally clicked the link to the Somali version of EdHat. Me, I believe that laws and law enforcement (and the taxes that pay for these and other government services) are an essential element of civilization.


 COMMENT 356964 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-23 01:24 PM

@962 - Bravo!


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