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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 Sat, Jan 1, 2011

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

The Green Hornet, courtesy Sony Pictures

By Reed “The Traffic Guy” Berry Arnold Schwarzenegger’s term as Governor may be coming to a close, however, in his final months in office, he has taken time to sign new laws that apply to California drivers. Each year, new laws are added and, unfortunately, many people only find out about them via the ‘learn-by-violating’ method. Let’s face it, unless you follow the news closely or have a friend at the DMV, you rarely hear about new laws that take effect each year. Violating traffic laws often results in costly tickets and higher insurance rates. Well, I don’t know if you have a buddy at the DMV, but you do have a friend at Once again, I have compiled my annual list of new driving-related laws and legislative fun facts that are helpful to know as you take to the road in 2011.

The not-for-sale-in-the-USA 2011 VW Phaeton with its windshield video camera that reads/displays street names

Windshield Video Event Recorder A new amendment to an existing law (CVC 26708) allows you to mount a ‘video event recorder’ on your windshield for the purpose of monitoring driver performance. A video event recorder is a device designed to record audio, video and G-force levels continuously in a digital loop and save up to 30 seconds of video when triggered by an unusual motion or crash. You may only mount these devices within a seven-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield on the passenger side, a five-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield on the driver’s side (outside of an airbag deployment zone), or in a five-inch square in the top center of the windshield. You are required to post a notice in a visible location that a passenger’s conversation may be recorded. Motorcycle Safety Course Prior to being issued a Motorcycle Instruction Permit, a person under the age of 21 must complete an approved motorcycle safety course. Once the course has been completed and the permit obtained, the permit must be held for at least six months before a Class M motorcycle license can be issued. Considering that there are already more than 6,000 licensed teen motorcycle riders in California, this new law should make the streets a bit safer.


Clean Air Stickers Extended For those of you fortunate enough to have Clean Air Stickers on your hybrid vehicle allowing you to drive with a single occupant in carpool lanes, those stickers were scheduled to expire January 1, 2011. New law extends the ‘sunset date’ for the stickers. Yellow stickers (hybrid vehicles) will be extended until July 1, 2011 and white stickers (fully-electric and compressed natural gas vehicles) are extended until January 1, 2015. The law also creates a third sticker for plug-in hybrid vehicles that will be valid from January 1, 2012 until January 1, 2015.

Editorial cartoon by Michael Ramirez - his father died before he could get the liver he needed

Organ Donation Starting July 1, 2011, the driver license application will include a ‘no’ option in the field to be checked by applicants pertaining to organ donation. Now, instead of checking ‘yes’ if you wish to donate your organs, it will require a yes or no response. Maybe it’s just me, but if you don’t check ‘yes’, doesn’t that mean ‘no’? Well, apparently legislators feel that this change on the applications will increase the number of organ donors. Traffic School Licensing and Regulation Previously only classroom-style traffic school was licensed and regulated by the DMV. Now, all court-approved courses including online and other home-study traffic school courses will be included in the Traffic Violator School licensing program. Firefighter Endorsement In order to simplify the licensing of firefighters, this new law exempts operators of firefighting equipment from the Commercial Driver License program and creates a new license endorsement process for such individuals.


Mobile Billboard Advertising New law gives local authorities the ability to adopt local ordinances and regulations pertaining to ‘mobile billboards’ (those large wheeled billboards pulled behind trucks and vans) and they may establish penalties that include removal of the mobile billboard. Also, the Vehicle Code (CVC 22651) has been amended so that a mobile billboard may be towed if left standing or parked in violation of local law. Hey, don’t tow away the mobile billboards…how will I know which brand of energy drink to purchase? License Plates When it comes to license plates, how’s yours hanging? New law amends the Vehicle Code (CVC 5201) to require that license plates be mounted parallel to the ground so the characters are upright and read from left to right. Seems like common sense, but I guess some people need instructions for everything. Bicycle Passing New law amends the Vehicle Code (CVC 21755) that allows drivers to pass to the right under certain conditions in order to clarify that it does not prohibit bicyclists from passing on the right in a bicycle lane or on a shoulder. Placard Placement Disabled persons and disabled veterans may now display their distinguishing placard on a clip installed by a vehicle’s manufacturer on the driver’s side front windshield as a result of an amendment to Section 22511.55 of the Vehicle Code.

Courtesy Midnight Club Los Angeles

Motorcycle Theft Section 466.65 has been added to the Penal Code and makes it a misdemeanor to possess, give, or lend the following: • Any device designed to bypass the factory-installed ignition of a motorcycle in order to start the engine without the manufacturer’s key. • Any motorcycle ignition or part of motorcycle ignition, with the intent to unlawfully take or drive, or to facilitate the unlawful taking or driving of a motorcycle, without the consent of the owner. • Items of hardware, including bolt cutters, electrical tape, wire cutters, wire strippers, or allen wrenches, with the intent to aid in the unlawful taking or driving of a motorcycle without the consent of the owner.

Courtesy Midnight Club Los Angeles

Motorcycle Exhaust Systems New law makes it illegal to park, use or operate a motorcycle registered in California that does not bear the required applicable federal Environmental Protection Agency exhaust system label. This law only applies to motorcycles manufactured on or after January 1, 2013, or a motorcycle with after market exhaust system equipment that is manufactured on or after January 1, 2013. Emergency Alert System / Blue Alert Similar to an Amber Alert, a ‘Blue Alert’ (Section 8594.5 to the Government Code) pertains to law enforcement officers and will be issued if all of the following conditions are met: • A law enforcement officer has been killed, suffers serious bodily injury, or is assaulted with a deadly weapon, and the suspect has fled the scene of the offense. • The investigating agency has determined that the suspect poses an imminent threat to the public or other law enforcement personnel. • A detailed description of the suspect’s vehicle or license plate is available for broadcast. • Public dissemination of available information may help avert further harm or accelerate apprehension of the suspect. For additional information on California driving laws:

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