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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, Dec 31, 2008

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

NEW CALIFORNIA DRIVING LAWS FOR 2009 By Reed Berry It seems like just yesterday everyone was stressing out over the big change to the year 2000, and now 2009 is already here. According to the movies I've seen, we are supposed to be transported by hovercraft and jet packs by now, aren't we? Well, those devices are still in our future I guess, but we do have cars as well as a plethora of traffic laws to make sure we drive our vehicles safely. Each year, new laws are added and others are changed. 2009 will be an interesting year, with a new law that offers free parking to former POWs, and the DMV telling you where to stick your GPS. And please put down your cell phone - texting while driving is now just a memory.

Texting While Driving Previously, only drivers under 18 were prohibited from texting while driving, but now the law applies to anyone driving in California. The new law makes it an infraction to write, send or read text messages while driving a motor vehicle. How law enforcement will differentiate between sending a text message and dialing a phone number remains to be seen. The fine for a violation will be the same as for talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving - $20 plus penalty assessment (approximately $70 total) for the first offense and $50 plus penalty assessment (approximately $160 total) on the second offense. GPS (Global Positioning System) Devices Next to the cup holder, the GPS navigation system is probably one of the most useful automotive accessories ever invented. If positioned improperly, however, it can block your view. New law requires your GPS device to be mounted in a seven-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield on the passenger side or in a five-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield on the driver's side of the vehicle. The law also requires that a GPS device be mounted outside of an airbag deployment zone.

Assault On Highway Workers It may seem tempting when four freeway lanes have been reduced to one for road construction, but don't even think about taking your frustration out on highway workers. New law provides an increased penalty for assault and battery crimes against Caltrans highway workers engaged in the performance of their duties. You can be fined up to $2,000, or imprisoned in the county jail for up to one year, or both. 911 Telephone System Abuse Hopefully, this will reduce the number of geniuses using 911 to report that a taco was missing from their fast food order or asking directions to Staples Center. A new law makes it an infraction to use, or allow the use, of the 911 telephone system for any reason other than an emergency. Violators will receive a warning on the first offense, but it will cost you $50 for the second offense, $100 for the third offense, and a hefty $250 for the fourth or subsequent offenses.

Special License Plates A new law, subject to approval by local authorities, allows veterans with special license plates to park their vehicles (weighing not more than 6,000 pounds gross weight) for free at parking meters. The special plates honor Pearl Harbor Survivors, Legion of Valor recipients, former American POWs, Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, and Purple Heart recipients. New Special Interest Plate A new special interest license plate, "Gold Star Family", will be available to family members of individuals killed in the line of duty while serving in the Armed Forces during wartime or military operations. Studded Pneumatic Tires Pneumatic tires with retractable metal-type studs may now be used year round as long as the studs are retracted between May 1 and October 31. The law prohibits the use of badly worn pneumatic tires on which the metal-type studs protrude beyond the tread when retracted.

Motorcycles Fully enclosed three-wheeled vehicles may now access the HOV (carpool) lanes regardless of the number of occupants thanks to a new law that changes the definition of a motorcycle by deleting the weight limitation and the separate definition for electrically powered motorcycles. Clean Air Stickers It is now an infraction to produce, acquire, or offer for sale a genuine or counterfeit "Clean Air Sticker" that allows vehicles with a single occupant to access the carpool lane. The fines are as follows: $100 to $250 for the first offense, $250 to $500 for the second offense, and $500 to $1,000 for the third offense. Temporary Operating Permits A new law limits the issuance of temporary operating permits to drivers whose vehicles have yet to pass a smog check. The law calls for a $50 fee for one 60-day temporary operating permit only if the vehicle has been tested at a smog station and failed. The $50 fee will be waived for vehicle owners accepted into the Bureau of Automotive Repair's Consumer Assistance Program. DUI: Zero Tolerance New law prohibits a convicted DUI offender from operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of .01 or greater while on probation for DUI. If the driver refuses to take a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test or has a BAC of .01 or above, a ticket will be issued, the vehicle will be impounded, the driver's license will be taken away and the driving privilege will be suspended.

Alcohol-Related Reckless Driving If a person convicted of alcohol-related reckless driving has a prior conviction for alcohol-related reckless driving or DUI within ten years, a new law requires the court to order that person to participate in a licensed DUI program for nine months. If they fail to enroll in, attend, or complete the DUI program, the court is required to revoke their probation. Ignition Interlock Device: Transfer of Authority A new law that takes effect in July 2009 transfers authority for the administration of mandatory IID programs from the state courts to the DMV. The DMV is also authorized to require a driver to install an IID in their vehicle if they have been convicted of driving on a suspended license due to a prior DUI conviction. Ignition Interlock Device: First Time DUI Previously, if a person had a BAC of .20 or higher at the time of arrest, the court was required to give "heightened consideration" to the installation of an IID for a first-time offender. A new law, effective July 2009, lowers the BAC to .15.

And Did You Know... A new law allows individual pieces of straw and hay that do not pose a threat to life or property to escape from bales being transported upon a highway, without penalty, providing the straw and hay bales are loaded and secured according to federal regulations. For additional information on California driving laws: Scenes from Midnight Club Los Angeles


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