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New California Traffic Laws for 2017

traffic laws

WLF Car Accident Lawyer Explains the New Laws

When the sun rises in the Golden State on the first day of 2017, a slew of new traffic laws will come into effect in California. Designed to make the state’s roadways safer, these laws govern everything from the use of electronic devices to child safety to the year of manufacture license plates.

Use of Electronic Wireless Devices

All motorists will be prohibited from using a mobile communications device while driving unless the device is used in hand-free mode. This means that drivers will not be able to hold and operate a handheld wireless telephone or any other electronic communications device while driving unless the device is attached to the dashboard or center console, or mounted on the windshield in such a way that it does not hinder the driver’s view of the road. This law does not apply to electronic systems installed by the manufacturers and embedded in the vehicle. (Assembly Bill No. 1785).

Ignition Interlock Devices (IDDs)

Motorists who are convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol in certain criminal courts in California will be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in their vehicle. This device prevents inebriated drivers from operating a vehicle. In exchange for installing the device for a prescribed amount of time, the driver will be able to obtain a restricted driver’s license, have his or her license reissued or get his or her motor vehicle privileges reinstated. The law will first be implemented as a pilot program in four counties (Los Angeles, Sacramento, Alameda and Tulare) and then expanded on January 1, 2019 to include the entire state. (Senate Bill No. 1046).

Lane Splitting for Motorcycles

Good news for motorcycle riders. Starting January 1, motorcyclists will officially be able to drive between two rows of stopped or moving vehicles – at a reasonable speed. This makes California the first state in the United States to formally legalize lane splitting. The law also authorizes the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to develop educational guidelines to help make lane splitting safer and more efficient. (Assembly Bill No. 51).

Increased Safety in School Buses

All vehicles used to transport school students will be required to have a child safety alert system installed. These vehicles include school buses, school activity buses, youth buses and child care vehicles. Additionally, all schools will be required to have a transportation safety plan to ensure that no student gets left alone on a bus.  (Senate Bill No. 1072).

Safety Seats for Children

This law will require every child under two years of age to be placed in an appropriate rear-facing child passenger restraint system unless the child is more than 40 pounds or taller than 40 inches. The bill, signed in 2015, expanded the existing law, which required children under eight years of age to be seated in an appropriate passenger restraint system. (Assembly Bill No. 53).

Reporting an Accident

The minimum threshold for reporting property damages in a motor vehicle accident will increase to $1,000 starting January 1. Currently, it is $750. (Senate Bill No. 491).

Loaning or Renting Vehicles Under Recall

With the new law, the Consumer Automatic Recall Safety (CARS) Act will come into effect. The Act prohibits car dealers and rental companies from renting or loading a vehicle that is under a manufacturer’s recall no later than 48 hours after receiving notice and until the vehicle has been repaired and declared roadworthy. (Assembly Bill No. 1289).

Vehicle Registration Fees

The vehicle registration fee for every vehicle or trailer coach will increase from $43 to $53 starting April 1, 2017. (Senate Bill No. 838).

Environmental License Plate Fee

The fee for environmental license plate will increase from $43 to $53 starting July 1, 2017. The fees for the renewal, retention, transfer or duplication of personalized environmental plates will rise from $38 to $43 on January 1. (Senate Bill No. 839).

Year of Manufacture License Plate

The new law will expand the year of manufacture license plate program to include all vehicles manufactured in and before 1980. Previously, only vehicles manufactured in 1969 or earlier were included in the program. In the case of pickup trucks, only those manufactured in 1972 or earlier were able to have such plates. The vintage number plate will then replace the regular license plate. (Senate Bill No. 1429).

In a state that is notorious for having a high number of traffic accidents, these laws are expected to have positive impacts on street and roadway safety for years to come. However, there is no law that can completely prevent accidents from happening. If you get injured in a crash caused by a negligent driver, consult an experienced car accident lawyer for immediate legal assistance.

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