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New California driving laws for 2013

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 Tue, Jan 1, 2013

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

Jesse (Aaron Paul) and Walter (Bryan Cranston) are just shocked at the new laws (Sony Pictures)

NEW CALIFORNIA DRIVING LAWS FOR 2013 By Reed Berry, “The Traffic Guy” Well, it appears as though we avoided the apocalypse that some seem to think would occur in 2012, but there’s something we can’t avoid – the new laws that apply to California drivers in 2013. Each year new laws are added and some are changed and, like anything else in life I guess, some things you hear seem to make perfect sense while others make you scratch your head and ask “What the heck were they thinking?” One new law that is bound to create confusion in the new year makes it legal to text while driving (if done in a very specific way), while another law addresses the issue of senior citizens that are missing. Thanks to former Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (who some may say had a political career authoring legislation that benefits illegal aliens), there’s a new law that will allow those from other countries to obtain a California driver license if their presence in our country is authorized in some way under federal law. The fact is, it really doesn’t matter whether you like the new laws or not, these driving-related laws will take effect in 2013 and it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with them. Following new traffic laws should make you a safer driver and will prevent you from receiving a costly ticket and, of course, knowing the more controversial laws will certainly make you more popular around the water cooler in the office. That being said, here is a summary of some of the new laws that learned legislators have given us.

Cars Land (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disney Resort)

Look, Ma. No Hands! Electronic Wireless Communications (AB 1536, Miller) – Remember the law that took effect in 2009 preventing motorists from texting while driving? Well, a new law for 2013 actually allows drivers to text while driving providing such communications are done in a voice-activated and hands-free manner. In other words, if your phone is technologically advanced to the point of being able to send and receive texts without the need to hold the phone or push any buttons, you may do so. If you must hold the phone or push a button to activate the voice texting feature on your phone, you are not in compliance with the law. Thank you, Governor Brown, for signing a law that is clearly beyond the capabilities of most current smartphones and which will certainly create confusion among California drivers. Autonomous Vehicles (SB 1298, Padilla) – This new law allows self-driving 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. Dude, Where’s My Dad? Emergency Services: Seniors (SB 1047, Alquist) – We’re all familiar with the ‘Amber Alert’ for child abduction, but now the CHP can activate a “Silver Alert” for missing seniors 65 or older under certain circumstances, such as: a. The person is missing under unexplained or suspicious circumstances b. Law enforcement believes the person is in danger (due to age, health, mental or physical disability, environment or weather conditions) c. The person is in the company of a potentially dangerous person d. Other factors indicating that the individual may be in peril Information may be provided to the public to assist in locating the missing senior.

Cars Land (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disney Resort)

If You Prefer a Blood Test, “Urine” Luck! Driving Under The Influence (AB 2020, Pan) – Under this new law, if you are arrested and suspected of driving under the influence of drugs, you will no longer have the option of a urine test. Previously, a person had the option of a urine or blood test to determine the drug content of their blood but now they will be given a blood test. I have to assume this will be a good thing for drug users who may be unable or unwilling to make a choice. If a blood test is unavailable, then the person is deemed to have given his or her consent to a urine test. Going Green Will Save You Some Green 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. Yet another valuable benefit for the eco-minded driver! Technology Is A Driver’s New Best Friend Financial Responsibility and Insurance (AB 1708, Gatto) – Previously, drivers had to produce physical copies of the vehicle registration and proof of insurance when requested by law enforcement. Under this new law, drivers will be able to show this information to the officer on a smartphone, tablet or other electronic device with a screen. Not only is this a cool new law from a convenience standpoint but, as a result, drivers will not have to carry physical copies of documents with personal information in their vehicle that could fall into the wrong hands (car thieves, dishonest valet parking attendants, etc.) Giving A Green Light To Red Light Camera Consistency Automated Traffic Enforcement Systems (SB 1303, Simitian) – Previously, signage and regulation of red light ticketing cameras varied by county. 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. Licenses for Everyone! (in a way) Driver License (AB 2189, Cedillo) – Those who do not qualify for a Social Security number based on their legal status in the USA may now qualify for a California driver license if they can provide satisfactory proof that their presence in the U.S. is authorized under federal law (delayed deportation, etc) and they meet all other qualifications for a license.

Cars Land (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disney Resort)

Sorry, Kids – Leave Partying To The Grown Ups 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 designated adult 25 or older to be present whenever there are passengers under 21 on board when alcohol is being transported. The designated adult is responsible for ensuring the rules are followed and for the safety of the underage passengers for the duration of the trip. And The Winners Of The Higher Fee Trifecta Are… Additional Registration Fees (AB 1404, Feuer) – Not everyone in the state will have to pay higher vehicle registration fees, but not-so-lucky residents of three SoCal counties will. This law authorizes the counties of Los Angeles, San Diego and San Bernardino to increase vehicle registration fees to help fund vehicle theft programs. Increases will be from $1 to $2 for passenger vehicles, and $2 to $4 for commercial vehicles. Everything Old Is New Again California Legacy License Plates (AB 1658, Gatto) – “Everything Old Is New Again” is not just the name of a song written by the late Peter Allen, it is a good way to describe the license plates you will soon be seeing on vehicles in California. The DMV is accepting applications for a series of three specialized license plates that replicate plates from California’s past. You will be able to choose from a minimum of three styles: yellow background with black lettering, black background with yellow lettering, and blue background with yellow lettering.

Cars Land (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disney Resort)

Bittersweet News for Commercial Drivers Traffic Violator School (AB 1888, Gatto) – Commercial drivers will now be allowed to attend traffic school for violations that take place when operating non-commercial vehicles. The conviction would not count as a point on their license unless it was considered a serious violation. Unfortunately, the record of the conviction will not be held confidential and will be disclosed to employers and to insurers for insurance underwriting and rating purposes. How’s Your Air Bag? Inflatable Restraint Systems (AB 1854, Brownley) – Air bags are only of benefit if they work correctly. This law makes it illegal for a person to knowingly distribute or sell a previously deployed air bag or component that no longer meets the original equipment form, function or proper operation. The Game of ‘Hide The Plates’ Comes To An End License Plates: Obstruction or Alteration (AB 2489, Hall) – Merely having license plates is not enough. They must be positioned correctly and readable by police officers and traffic enforcement devices. Here’s bad news for the scofflaws that deliberately position their license plates so as not to be seen by ticketing cameras - 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. New Parents Get The 411 On Child Safety Seats Child Passenger Restraints (AB 1452, Hill) – In the interest of improved child passenger safety, 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.

Are the laws breaking bad for 2013? (Sony Pictures)

For additional information on California driving laws: California Department of Motor Vehicles: California Highway Patrol: California Legislative Counsel:

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