New California Traffic Laws

New California Traffic Laws

Here are some new California traffic laws you need to know about.

Financial Responsibility

Allows a person to provide, when requested by law enforcement, a paper version of proof of financial responsibility or an electronic version using a mobile electronic device.

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Electronic Wireless Communications

Allows a driver 18 years of age or older to use an electronic wireless communications device that is designed and configured to allow voice-operated, hands-free operation to dictate, send, or listen to text-based communications when operating a vehicle.

Medical Reporting Changes for Firefighter Endorsement

Changes the requirement for firefighters to submit a Medical Examination Report (DL 51) from 4 years to 2 years. In addition, it allows non-commercially licensed firefighters to submit a self-certifying Health Questionnaire (DL 546).

New Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Sanctions Eliminates the urine test as one of the three chemical tests to determine a driver’s drug content when arrested for a DUI of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both, unless the individual:

Is unable to provide a blood and/or breath sample Has a heart condition, or is taking anti-coagulate nar-cotics as directed by a licensed physician. Is a hemophiliac.

High Occupancy Toll Lanes

Exempts low emission and hybrid vehicles eligible to use High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV) lanes from toll charges required on High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes, unless prohibited by federal law.

Obstruction or Alteration of License Plates

Prohibits the selling of a visual or electronic product or device that obscures the reading or recognition of a license plate. Also prohibits the operation of a vehicle with such a product or device.

Updates for 2021

AB 47 (Daly, Chaptered by Secretary of State – Ch 603, Stats. 2019

Effective July 1, 2021, this law requires DMV to assess a negligent operator on a driver’s record for a second conviction within 36 months of talking, texting, or using a handheld wireless communications device (cell phone) while driving.

“Move Over Law” for Emergency Vehicle Safety

Drivers are now required to slow down or change lanes when approaching stationary emergency vehicles with emergency lights. This includes a tow truck or Caltrans vehicle on local streets and roads. Until now, such slowing was only required on freeways.

This law is designed to protect law enforcement officials or first responders who may be outside of their vehicles while responding to emergencies.  

Authorized emergency vehicles are also allowed to use a “Hi-Lo” warning sound, which is different from a siren. It will be used to notify the public of an immediate need to evacuate an area for an emergency. 

Unattended children 

Bystanders and passersby will NOT face civil or criminal liability for damaging vehicles to remove unattended children, age 6 or younger, who are in immediate danger from heat, cold, lack of ventilation, or other dangerous circumstances.

Distracted driving

Beginning July 1, driving while using a cell phone “in a handheld manner” will result in a point being added to a driver’s record. The penalty applies if the violation is the second to occur within 36 months of being convicted of the same offense.

Four points within 12 months, six within 24 months, or eight within 36 months could lead to a suspended license, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

The law pertains to anyone caught talking on the phone or texting while driving unless they’re using a hands-free device. 

Anyone under the age of 18 cannot use any devices while driving.

License plates for veterans

The California Department of Motor Vehicles announced changes that will benefit veterans of the United States military.

Beginning Jan. 1, eligible disabled veterans may verify eligibility for special or distinguishing license plates or a disabled person parking placard if they present certification from the California Department of Veterans Affairs or a county veterans services officer. 

Previously, the DMV only accepted certification from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs in the absence of a medical certificate.

The DMV also will waive applicable knowledge and driving skills test required for a commercial driver’s license if the applicant is a current or former member of the United States Armed Forces licensed to drive large trucks. They need to qualify for the Troops to Trucks or Military Even Exchange program. 

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