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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 Fri, Jan 18, 2008

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

There are laws against road rage (Universal)    CALIFORNIA'S NEW DRIVING LAWS FOR 2008 By Reed Berry, The Traffic Guy

When I say 2008, what comes to mind? Sure, you may immediately think of the upcoming Presidential election, the Summer Olympics in Beijing, or even the fact that the United Nations has declared 2008 The Year of the Potato. But since you may never have an opportunity to meet our new President, you have no immediate plans to visit China during The Year of the Rat, and the closest you'll come to honoring potatoes is ordering fries at In-N-Out Burger, let's focus on something that will affect us every day - new California driving laws for 2008. The most talked about new law is the one that restricts cell phone use while driving. In fact, many people seem to think the law has already taken effect when, in reality, it takes effect July 1st. The new law changes the way we use our cell phones while driving and drivers under the age of 18, with specific exceptions, will not be talking on their cell phones at all. Other new laws for '08 are intended to protect children and consumers. And if you are thinking about buying a cool automotive gadget designed to help you avoid being ticketed by those red light cameras, think again. So for your review, and hopefully your compliance, here are the new laws you need to know as you get behind the wheel in 2008. Unless otherwise indicated, the new laws are in effect as of January 1, 2008.

It's still unlawful to go without front license plates (DreamWorks)    Cellular Phones (Effective July 1, 2008) The new cell phone law prohibits persons 18 and older from driving a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless a hands-free device is used. A hands-free device may be a speakerphone, corded headset, or cordless Bluetooth headset. Holding a cell phone to dial and to send text messages, while not prohibited by the new law, may result in a ticket under the basic speed law (CVC 22350) if a police officer feels you are driving unsafely. Exceptions to this new law include emergency situations (calls to law enforcement, fire department, health care provider, etc.), while operating a vehicle on private property, and emergency service providers operating an authorized emergency vehicle during the course of employment. Drivers with a Class A or Class B license operating a commercial truck (excluding pickups) or truck tractor, as well as school bus and transit vehicle drivers, may use a cell phone with a "push-to-talk" two-way radio feature that does not require the phone to be close to the ear. Drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from operating a motor vehicle while using a cell phone, even if equipped with a hands-free device. Using mobile service devices such as pagers, texting devices, and laptops is prohibited as well. This applies to all drivers under 18, including emancipated minors. Exceptions include placing calls in emergency situations and while driving on private property. Regardless of your age, the fine for violating the new cell phone laws will be $20 plus penalty assessment (penalty assessment is basically three times the amount of the fine plus a state surcharge) on the first offense and $50 plus penalty assessment on the second or subsequent offenses. A violation will result in a conviction on your driving record, but it does not count as a violation point.

Smoking in vehicles can have consequences (DreamWorks)    Smoking In Vehicles with Minors In an attempt to protect children from the dangers of second-hand smoke, the Marco Firebaugh Memorial Children's Health & Safety Act of 2007 (within the California Health & Safety Code) makes it an infraction to smoke a cigarette, cigar or pipe in a vehicle in which there is a minor. This applies whether the vehicle is in motion or not. A violation is punishable by a fine of up to $100. This is a "secondary enforcement" measure, which means a driver can only be cited for a violation of this law when stopped for another traffic offense. License Plate Accessories Just because auto parts stores and automotive websites sell a product, don't assume its legal for you to use on your vehicle. It is now illegal to sell or use any product that prevents an electronic device (such as a red light camera) operated by the police or on toll roads from recognizing (reading) your license plate.

Kids, don't try this at home (DreamWorks)    Speed Limit in School Zones Children may soon be a little safer as the result of a new law that allows local jurisdictions to establish a speed limit of 15-mph within 500 feet of a school. The 15-mph speed limit must be posted, and it applies when children are arriving at or leaving school, during noon recess, or at any time when children are using the school grounds and are not separated by a physical barrier such as a fence or gate. The speed limit is 25-mph at a distance of 500 to 1,000 feet from the school. Street Racing: Vehicle Impoundment No one can dispute the fact that street racing is dangerous. In an attempt to reduce the practice, the police can now impound a vehicle for 30 days when a person is arrested for street racing, reckless driving or exhibition of speed. If the owner of the vehicle was not the driver or a passenger at the time of the violation and were unaware that the vehicle was being used in this dangerous manner, they can claim their vehicle prior to the end of the impoundment period. This also applies if the owner did not authorize the person to use their vehicle or if the vehicle had been stolen. Traffic School: Two-Point Violations Most people in traffic school attend with a one-point violation such as speeding, running a red light or stop sign, or unsafe lane change, just to name a few. Occasionally, courts have allowed drivers with more serious two-point violations to attend traffic school. This effectively - and unfairly - allows dangerous drivers to maintain their "good driver" insurance discounts. New law prohibits a court from allowing a driver who commits a two-point violation to attend traffic school to clear their ticket. Two-point violations include DUI, speed contest, reckless driving, evading a peace officer, hit-and-run, vehicular manslaughter, and illegal transport of explosives. Disabled Parking (Effective July 1, 2008) New law limits the maximum consecutive number of times a person can renew a temporary disability parking placard to six. It also increases the fines for second and third violations for illegally parking in spaces for the disabled. A second offense will now result in a fine of between $500 and $750; a third offense and you'll receive a hefty fine of between $750 and $1,000. New or replacement signs installed after July 1st must read "Persons with Disabilities" rather than "Disabled Persons".

Street racing gone awry (DreamWorks)    Key Codes for Replacement Keys If your keys have been lost, stolen or damaged, obtaining replacement keys for your vehicle will be much easier now thanks to a new law that requires automakers to provide the key codes necessary for a licensed and registered locksmith to make a replacement key. This applies to vehicles sold or leased in California on or after January 1, 2008. Automakers that sell fewer than 2,500 vehicles annually are exempt, and automakers that make their own keys, such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz, are not required to comply with the law until 2013 as long as they send a replacement key by overnight mail. Fee Increases to Fund Alternative Fuel Research and Vehicle Technologies (Effective July 1, 2008) Between 2008 and 2016 (when the law expires), car owners will be contributing over $150 million to fund a variety of programs. A new law increases the smog abatement fee on newer vehicles and the registration fee paid by all vehicle owners. Programs include research into alternative fuels, alternative fuel infrastructure projects, retrofitting large truck engines, and removing high-polluting vehicles from the road.

Megan Fox checks under her hood (DreamWorks)    And did you know... A new law allows a family member of a deceased former POW or Congressional Medal of Honor recipient with special license plates to retain one of those license plates as a family heirloom. For additional information on California driving laws: For additional information on smog checks and consumer assistance: The Bourne Ultimatum photograph courtesy of Universal; Transformers photographs courtesy of DreamWorks SKG.

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