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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Wed, Jan 7, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff


By Contributing Editor REED BERRY

A new year means new laws for California drivers. Some of the changes will be welcome news while others will have you reaching for your wallet to pay higher fines and fees. Recently, Governor Schwarzenegger issued an executive order to prevent vehicle license fees from being tripled. While the Governor’s action prevents the license fee increase, Senator Tom McClintock is attempting to gain enough support to amend the California Constitution to ban vehicle license fees and to exempt registered vehicles from property taxation. ( Another recent legislative highlight was the swift repeal of SB 60, which would have required the DMV to issue driver licenses to illegal aliens as of January 1, 2004. A reworked version of the bill may surface later in the hope of gaining Schwarzenegger’s support, but recent polls indicate that the majority of Californians are strongly opposed to the idea of granting the driving privilege to undocumented immigrants. More than 200 changes to the California Vehicle Code took effect on January 1st. Here are some of the highlights: AB 301, Television – You may not drive a motor vehicle equipped with a means of visually displaying a television broadcast or video signal that is operating and is located at any point forward of the back of the driver’s seat or is visible to the driver while operating the vehicle. This does not apply to a mobile digital terminal in an authorized emergency vehicle or in a motor vehicle providing emergency roadside assistance. AB 1697, Child Safety Restraints – A child secured in a child safety seat must be secured in the rear seat of the vehicle unless there is no rear seat; the rear seat is side or rear-facing; the restraint system cannot be properly installed in the rear seat; all rear seats are occupied by children under the age of 12; or for medical reasons that prevent the child from riding in the rear seat. SB 1055, DMV Fee Increases – Here is a partial list of the 2004 fee increases: Driver’s License fee jumps from $15 to $24; the fee for a California Identification card increases from $6 to $20 (but remains free for seniors); Vehicle Registration increases from $28 to $31; Duplicate License fee was $12 but is now $19. Among the other increases: The service fee for the issuance of a certificate of title without registration from $10 to $15; the CHP fee collected in conjunction with the vehicle registration jumps from $1 to $6; the fee collected in conjunction with the registration of vehicle purchased new or previously registered outside of California increases from $10 to $15. AB 1022, Red Light Cameras – Specifies that certain functions of the red light camera program cannot be delegated to the camera vendors and prohibits camera vendors from being paid on a per-ticket basis. Citation processing guidelines must be established for the vendor to follow that assure only citations reviewed and approved by law enforcement are mailed to violators. AB 213, Data Recorder Equipment – Vehicles manufactured on or after July 1, 2004 (the effective date of this bill), equipped with an “event data recorder” that logs such driving behavior as seat belt use, speed, braking, etc., must disclose the existence of this equipment in the owner’s manual. AB 1343, Learner Permits - Requires California teen drivers to wait until they are 15 _ to receive their learner permits. The Dept. of Motor Vehicles also will require in-classroom driver training classes to be completed before students are issued a permit to drive. The only exception is for those who are at least 15 _ and are enrolled in an integrated training course, where classroom driver education and behind-the-wheel experience are taught at the same time. AB 1627, Seat Belt Fines - Increases seat belt fines by making the $20 fine for a first seat belt violation and the $50 fine for a second violation the base fine, rather than the maximum fine, and subjects these fines to penalty assessment and court costs. SB 315, Small Claims Judgments – The DMV can suspend the driving privilege of a person that fails to pay a small claims court judgment of less than $500 relative to a property damage traffic collision. AB 377, Whistle Tips – You may not modify, operate, or install a motor vehicle exhaust system equipped with a “whistle tip” that creates a shrieking noise when the vehicle is being operated. For additional information on traffic laws in California, pick up a copy of the California Driver Handbook, available free of charge at your local DMV office. DMV publications and forms can be accessed through the DMV website:

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