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New driving laws set to take effect Jan. 1

Posted: December 19, 2012 5:36 p.m.
Updated: December 19, 2012 5:36 p.m.

A series of new driving laws are set to go into effect at the beginning of next year, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The new laws cover an array of topics from technology use while driving to CHP emergency responses. A synopsis of some of the new laws is below:

• Assembly Bill 45 — Prohibits underage drinking in charter-party carriers such as buses or limousines. The carrier or driver is responsible for making sure this law is obeyed.

Additionally, this law requires someone who is at least 25 years old to be present in any vehicle where there are passengers under 21 years old and alcohol is being transported.

• Assembly Bill 1266 — Prohibits a passenger in a recreational off-highway vehicle from riding in an area that was not designed to seat a passenger. Recreational off-highway vehicles are defined as motorized off-road vehicles designed to travel on four or more non-highway tires with a steering wheel, non-straddle seating, seat belts, an occupant protective structure and engine displacement of up to 1,000 cc.

• Assembly Bill 1595 — Expands the definition of an off-highway motor vehicle to include recreational off-highway vehicles. This law also raises the minimum age to operate such vehicles to 16.

• Assembly Bill 1404 — Authorizes the counties of Los Angeles, San Diego and San Bernardino to increase existing vehicle registration fees to fund vehicle theft prevention and prosecution efforts. These increases would be from $1 to $2 for passenger vehicles and $2 to $4 for commercial vehicles.

• Assembly Bill 1452 — Requires clinics, hospitals and birthing centers to discuss child safety seat requirements with parents and caregivers after treating a child, provided the child is less than 8 years old.

• Assembly Bill 1536 — Allows California drivers to use technology to make phone calls and send or receive text messages while driving so long as the device is designed to be voice operated and hands free.

• Assembly Bill 1708 — Drivers now have the option of providing proof of vehicle registration or insurance using a smartphone or tablet computer as opposed to paper documentation.

• Assembly Bill 2020 — A person who has already been arrested and is suspected of driving under the influence of drugs no longer has the option of taking a urine test to determine whether they are intoxicated.

Previously, a suspect had the option of taking either a urine or blood test. Those who are hemophiliacs or those taking medications for heart conditions are exempt from this law.

• Assembly Bill 2189 — Citizens are able to receive a driver’s license even if they are not eligible for a Social Security card provided they meet all other requirements and can prove they are in the United States legally.

• Assembly Bill 2405 — Creates the Choose Clean Cars Act that allows vehicles with a Clean Air Vehicle sticker free access to carpool lanes that are converted into High Occupancy Toll lanes.

• Assembly Bill 2489 — Prohibits the altering or positioning of license plates from their original markings.

• Assembly Bill 2552 — Makes a distinction between individuals arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and those driving under the influence of drugs. This law does not go into effect until Jan.1, 2014.

• Senate Bill 1047 — Permits the California Highway Patrol to issue a “Silver Alert” for a person age 65 or older who is reported missing under suspicious circumstances or may be in danger due to health concerns or adverse weather conditions.

The Silver Alert will function similarly to the AMBER Alert system used for missing children.

• Senate Bill 1303 — Requires signs be posted within 200 feet of an intersection notifying drivers where a red-light enforcement system is operating.




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