by John Wilson on Dec 27, 2012
New laws that govern California drivers will go in effect on January 1, 2013. These rules are the product of legislation passed by the state 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 Commissioner Joe Farrow. "Citizens are encouraged to familiarize themselves with these new laws in advance of the new year."
The following are summaries of some of the new driving laws:
Driving Under the Influence (AB 2020) 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) 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) 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) 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) This law exempts vehicles with special state-issued green and white stickers (all electric, natural gas, and "plug-in" hybrid cars) from toll charges that single-occupant vehicles pay to access express or HOT (high occupancy toll) lanes. This exemption does not apply to the new Metro Express Lanes on the I-110 (Harbor) and I-10 (San Bernardino) freeways south and east of downtown Los Angeles until after March 1, 2014. These vehicles are also not exempt from tolls charged on regular toll roads.
Autonomous Vehicles (SB 1298) 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) 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) 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) 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) 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) 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.
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.
For more information on car insurance, contact your Long Beach auto insurance specialists at Neighbors Plus Insurance Services (562) 627-1961.
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