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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 Tue, Jan 2, 2007

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

Ethan Hunt leaves the scene of an accident (M:I:III) CALIFORNIA'S NEW DRIVING-RELATED LAWS FOR 2007 By Reed Berry, The Traffic Guy

Every new year brings new laws and changes, and 2007 is certainly no exception. Safety seems to be the main focus, as several new laws address the safety of senior drivers, pedestrians and vehicle passengers. Many drivers feel, based on e-mails I read as well as calls I receive during guest appearances on radio talk shows, that traffic laws are merely a revenue-generating tool for the state. Yes, needless to say, the state does make more than a few bucks from traffic violations, but the laws are in place for a couple of good reasons...the orderly movement of traffic and public safety. Obey them and you'll have a great day; violate them and you will find yourself on the receiving end of a very expensive traffic ticket. Over $200 for the average speeding ticket, nearly $400 for running a red light, and if you pass a school bus while its red lights are flashing, whip out the checkbook and be prepared to pay nearly $600! The high prices may seem excessive, but think of it as "behavior modification" for people who sometimes forget they share the road with others. Here are highlights of the new laws you need to know in '07. Unless otherwise mentioned, the new laws take effect on January 1, 2007. UNATTENDED PETS IN VEHICLES / ANIMAL ABUSE An addition to the California Penal Code makes it a crime to endanger the health or well-being of an animal by leaving it unattended in a vehicle in conditions that can reasonably be expected to cause suffering, disability, or death to the animal. Those conditions include cold or hot temperatures (think about it - it is 20 to 40 degrees hotter inside a parked car on a warm day), lack of adequate ventilation, and lack of food or water. A first offense will result in fine of $100 per animal, but that grows to $500 and up to six months in jail if the animal suffers great bodily injury. After a reasonable attempt to find the vehicle's owner, a peace officer or animal control officer may break into the vehicle to rescue the animal. They are required to leave a note indicating where the animal was taken for care. RIDING IN THE TRUNK It is unlawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle while another person is riding in the trunk, and it is unlawful to ride in the trunk of someone's vehicle. Allowing someone to ride in the trunk will result in a fine and a point on the driver's record. The person riding in the trunk receives a fine. And what do you think leads to the dangerous practice of "trunking"? Some teen drivers try to get around the passenger restrictions placed on younger drivers by hiding their friends in the trunk. DUI The penalties for underage drinking and driving have been increased. New law makes it a criminal offense (rather than a civil penalty) for a driver under the age of 21 to have a measurable BAC of .01 percent. The first offense for driving under the influence (DUI) will carry a minimum fine of $350.

Scene from Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift RECKLESS DRIVING AND STREET RACING Previously, only drivers with a previous conviction for reckless driving and street racing resulting in great bodily injury were charged with a felony. New law makes the first violation a felony offense. Great bodily injury includes loss of consciousness, concussions, bone fractures, wounds requiring extensive suturing, serious disfigurement, and paralysis. MATURE DRIVER COURSES Drivers age 55 and over can take a Mature Driver Course to receive a discount on their auto insurance. The initial course is eight hours in length. New law permits renewal courses to be completed in just four hours. These courses are designed to help senior motorists drive more safely by educating them on proper driving techniques and making them aware of changes in the law. AUTOETTE What is an "autoette", you ask? It is the name given by the DMV to small motor vehicles driven in the City of Avalon on Catalina Island. An autoette is a vehicle that has three or more wheels in contact with the ground; an unladen weight of no more than 1,800 pounds; overall length of no more than 120 inches including fromt and rear bumpers; and a width of no more than 55 inches (measured from its widest part.) The DMV will now register autoettes, and the registration requirements are the same as other motor vehicles. If the vehicle is removed from Catalina Island, the license plates must be removed and surrendered to the DMV. EMERGENCY VEHICLES Emergency vehicle operators and tow truck drivers should be a little safer now thanks to a new law for '07. Drivers approaching emergency vehicles and tow trucks with siren or emergency lights activated must move carefully into a lane at least two lanes away from the emergency vehicle or tow truck. And if such movement is not safe or legal, you must slow to a reasonable or prudent speed. This law expires on January 1, 2010.

Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift SMOG CHECK Beginning January 1, 2008, vehicles that emit visible smoke from the tailpipe or crankcase will fail a smog check. Owners of such vehicles can appeal to a state referee, and low-income vehicle owners may be eligible for repair assistance. (Editor's note: Perhaps Han in the orange Mazda above can appeal a "visible smoke" violation based on the fact that his smoke is emitting from the rear tires) GRAFFITI AND VANDALISM Individuals convicted of graffiti and vandalism will have more free time to tag and vandalize because they won't be allowed to drive for a while. New law allows courts to impose increase driver license sanctions for such activities, including a license suspension of up to two years. If the person has no license to suspend, the court can delay issuing a license for one to three years. IGNITION INTERLOCK DEVICE Some drivers with a DUI conviction are required to have an IID (a electronic alcohol analyzing device you have to blow into in order to start your car) installed in their vehicle. The law now prohibits an IID manufacturer from providing information to any individual or entity that would allow modifications to be made that would allow it to be used in a manner other than its intended purpose. SCHOOL BUS CERTIFICATE The California Highway Patrol is now authorized to conduct a preliminary criminal and driver history check prior to allowing someone to operate a schoolbus, school pupil activity bus, youth bus, or general public paratransit vehicle. VEHICLE IMPOUNDMENT / ILLEGAL DUMPING Hey, watch where you put those body parts. Under a new law, a court can impound a vehicle used in the illegal dumping of waste matter for up to six months if the person driving the vehicle has a prior conviction. Waste matter includes oil and other petroleum products, paint, garbage, furniture, dirt, gravel and, yes, body parts. CELL PHONES A new law prevents drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving. If you want to talk on the phone, you'll have to use a hands-free device or headset. You will have ample time to go headset shopping, however, as this law does not take effect until July 1, 2008. You can look forward to a minimum total fine of $70 on the first offense and $175 for subsequent offenses. Push-to-talk phones, such as Nextel, are exempt from the hands-free requirement until July 1, 2011.

Soon to be posted on Mulholland Drive* * Not! The "Minimum 40 mph" traffic sign is real, but not in California. Readers who correctly identify the location of this sign and forward it to [email protected] will get a free set of "Powered by LA Car" window decals. - Editors Editor's Note: Reed Berry is known professionally as The Traffic Guy. Since 1988, Reed has taught humor-based traffic violator school classes throughout Southern California and has served as keynote speaker at safety conferences across America. A recognized traffic safety expert, Reed's growing list of TV interview credits includes Fox News Channel, NHK News in Japan, Eye-to-Eye with Connie Chung, and BBC-TV in London. Reed was the co-creator and co-host of Traffic Jam (KRLA 1110 AM, Los Angeles). For additional information on California driving laws: For additional information on smog checks and consumer assistance: Fast and the Furious photographs courtesy of Universal; Mission Impossible III photograph courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

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