NEW LAWS : Motor Vehicles

Motorists in the mountain communities need to be aware of several new laws that go into effect January 1, 2013, related to motor vehicles. (File Photo)

By Michael P. Neufeld

Sacramento, CA – California motorists will find several news laws taking effect January 1, 2013.

“The changes to California’s traffic safety laws are designed to protect the motoring public,” according to California Highway Patrol 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,” Farrow explained in a prepared media release, “or the lives of your fellow motorists.”

A.B. 45 – Charter-Party Carriers of Passengers:  Alcoholic Beverages:  Open Containers (Wesley Chesbro – D-Santa Rosa) – 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.

A.B. 1404 – Additional Registration Fees (Mike Feuer – D-Los Angeles)  – This legislation 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.

A.B. 1452 – Child Passenger Restraints (Jerry Hill – D-San Mateo) – 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.

A.B. 1536 – Electronic Wireless Communications (Jeff Miller R-Corona) – 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.

A.B. 1708 – Financial Responsibility and Insurance (Mike Gatto – D-Burbank) – 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.

A.B. 1854 – Inflatable Restraint Systems (Julia Brownley- D-Oak Park) – 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.

A.B. 2020 –  Driving Under the Influence (Richard Pan – D-Sacramento) – 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.

A.B. 2189 – Driver License (Gil Cedillo D-Los Angeles) – 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.

A.B. 2405 –  High Occupancy Toll Lanes (Bob Blumenfield – D-Van Nuys) – 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.

A.B. 2489 – License Plates:  Obstruction or Alteration (Isadore Hall III – D-Rancho Dominguez) – 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.

S.B. 1047 – Emergency Services:  Seniors (Elaine Alquist D-Santa Clara) – 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.

S.B. 1298 – Autonomous Vehicles (Alex Padilla – D-Pacoima) – 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.

S.B. 1303 – Automated Traffic Enforcement Systems (Joe Simitian – D-Palo Alto) – 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.


There are also two new laws related to recreational off-highway vehicles.

A.B. 1595  (Paul Cook – R-Yucca Valley) defines an off-highway motor vehicle to include a recreational off-highway vehicle (ROV) and establishes additional requirements governing its safe operation.

A.B. 1266 (Paul Cook – R-Yucca Valley) – The law, 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.

JANUARY 1, 2014

A.B. 2552 – Driving Under the Influence:  Alcoholic Beverage or Drug (Norma J. Torres – D-Chino) – 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.


Click on the following links for additional stories related to new California laws effective January 1, 2013.

NEW LAWS: Insurance

NEW LAWS: Social Media

NEW LAWS: Seniors

NEW LAWS: Veterans

NEW LAWS: Gun Control

NEW LAWS: 2013


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