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New 2018 California DMV Laws

Don’t want to start the new year with a ticket? Have outstanding parking violations? Due for registration or license renewal? Be sure to check out the new California laws enforced by the DMV starting January 1, before hopping in your vehicle, and be prepared to dish out money for new fees in 2018.

New California DMV Laws 2018 Infographic

Laws for Motorists in California

Prohibited Cannabis Use Inside Vehicles in California

Both driver and a passenger are prohibited from consuming or smoking marijuana and all marijuana products, while inside a vehicle. A violation will result in negligent operator points. Please refer to the California Driver Handbook and Motorcycle Handbook for upcoming 2018 updates on marijuana use violations.

Seatbelt Use Enforced on Buses 

A passenger riding on a bus that has seat belts must be securely fastened by a safety belt. If you’re a parent, legal guardian, or an accompanying party traveling with a child between ages 8 and 16, the law also requires the child to be properly secured by a safety belt. Starting July 1, a violation will lead to an infraction and a fine.

Increased DUI Standards to Transport Passengers for Hire 

The new law prohibits individuals with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04 percent or more to operate personal motor vehicle, while transporting a passenger on-board. DUI conviction will lead to a suspended driver license, or disqualification of commercial drivers.

New Parking Violation Conditions for Registration or Driver License Renewal  

For those with outstanding parking tickets and other fees, the new law prevents issuance or renewal of registration or driver license until they are paid. However, you may file for Planned Non-Operation status, if you are a registered owner or seek to renew your driver license, while having outstanding parking penalties on record. Low-income Californians are eligible to take advantage of a new procedure to help repay fines, before violations are reported to the DMV.

New HOV Decal Program for Low Emission Vehicles

Owners of low emission vehicles will be allowed to enroll in a four-year decal program that grants the use of high-occupancy vehicle lanes, despite their vehicle occupancy level. For those with green and white decals on vehicles, the expiration date is January 1, 2019. If your green or white decal was issued in 2017 or 2018, you may reapply for a decal in 2019 to obtain access to high-occupancy toll lanes through January 1, 2022.

New Process for Disabled Person Parking Placard and License Plate

To qualify for the disabled person parking placard and license plate, you are required to furnish a proof of verifiable full name and birthdate. The new limit on the amount of replacement placards is set to four in two years without updating a medical certification. To renew your application, you will only be required to return the DMV renewal notice by mail every six years without having to obtain a medical certification.

Motorcycle Training Certificate Accepted In Lieu of Skills Test

Those over 21 years of age may now apply for motorcycle license, without the requirement of the motorcycle skills test. The DMV will accept a certificate of satisfactory completion from any motorcyclist-training school approved by the California Highway Patrol. Individuals under 21 years of age are still required to pass a novice motorcyclist-training program.

Firefighter License Plate Program for Surviving Family Member

Under this law, a surviving spouse, partner, or a child of a deceased firefighter are eligible for a California Firefighter Special License Plate for their vehicles.

DMV to Regulate Private Carriers

Starting July 1, 2018, the DMV will be regulating non-business carriers of passengers, the function previously performed by California Public Utilities Commission.

New Transportation Improvement Fee

Based on your vehicle’s current value, you will be required to pay the Transportation Improvement Fee (TIF) during registration or renewal. The fee ranges from $25 – $175 and applies to all renewal notices due January 1, 2018. A Road Improvement Fee will also be added to the collection beginning July 1, 2020 for zero-emission vehicles model year 2020 and beyond.

Vehicles with Market Value Range Transportation Improvement Fee

Between $0 and $4,999 – $25

Between $5,000 and $24,999 – $50

Between $25,000 and $34,999 – $100

Between $35,000 and $59,999 – $150

$60,000 and higher – $175

California’s REAL ID Federal Enforcement

Nearing the expiration date of your California State driver’s license or identification card? Instead of heading to the DMV early, you may want to hold off until January 22, 2018 so you can apply for a REAL ID-compliant card.

Beginning on October 1, 2020, only REAL ID-compliant forms of identification as well as other federally approved forms can be used by TSA for flying domestic, entering federal facilities, and visiting military bases.

Thankfully, if your ID or driver’s license doesn’t expire for another couple of years, you can continue using it until October 1, 2020. In lieu of ID cards and driver’s licenses that are REAL ID-compliant, you may also use your U.S. passport, U.S. passport card, military ID, and other TSA approved identification.

Do You Need A REAL ID-compliant Form of Identification to Drive?

Fortunately, not having a REAL ID-compliant form of identification won’t prevent you from driving, voting, registering to vote, and applying for federal benefits (for more information, check out Homeland Security’s REAL ID FAQ page).

Is California the Only State Effected by the REAL ID Act?  

Back in 2005, the REAL ID Act was established as a way to set mandatory, minimum security standards in which all states must abide by, an act created under the law, “Emergency Supplemental Appropriation for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, 2005.” In the past 12 years since its passing, 26 states have met federal standards while the other 24, including the entire west coast, are either under review or have filed extensions.

What Do You Need to Bring to the DMV for a Real ID?

When applying for a REAL ID-complaint driver’s license or identification, you must visit your DMV office (yes, an in-person visit) and bring evidence proving your identity, social security number, residency, and, if applicable, a document proving your name change. The following types of documents are acceptable:

  • Proof of Identity
    • S. Birth Certificate
    • Valid U.S. Passport
    • Foreign Passport with an approved I-94 form
    • Permanent resident card
    • Employment Authorization document
  • Proof of Social Security Number
    • Social Security card or
    • W-2
    • Paystub with SSN
  • California Residency Document (two documents)
    • Rental agreement
    • Mortgage bill or any other bill with your address on it
    • School document
    • Employment
  • Name Change Document
    • Marriage certificate
    • Divorce Decree
    • Any other court document proving name change

Is Your AB60 ID Safe from the REAL ID Act?

When Assembly Bill 60 (otherwise known as AB60) went into effect on January 1, 2015, undocumented immigrants could apply for driver’s licenses without presenting proof of lawful presence. Over 905,000 driver’s licenses have been issued under AB60, giving thousands of undocumented immigrants the freedom to drive in California.

How will the REAL ID Act effect this groundbreaking bill? The good news is that it won’t! Your AB60 license is safe.

Remember: if you know someone who has suffered from a car accident through no fault of their own and is undocumented, Wilshire Law Firm will represent them regardless of their immigrant status!

As a New Driver, Should I Get a Driver’s License Now or Wait Until January?

You’ve passed drivers ed, you have the hours you need behind the wheel, and now you’re itching to finally get your driver’s license. But, the REAL ID Act goes into effect in January. So, should you wait until then to get your driver’s license?

The first thing to consider is that purchasing a REAL ID-compliant license is optional. As mentioned above, as long as you have a passport or another TSA approved form of identification, you won’t need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license. But, if you don’t have a passport and only plan on traveling within the United States, purchasing a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license may be in your best interest. There’s a big difference between spending $33 on a license and over $250 for a passport.

Once again, we want to reiterate that retaining a non-compliant form of identification will not affect your status as a driver or voter. If you plan to travel by airplane and are uncomfortable bringing your passport, then a REAL ID-compliant form of identification is absolutely necessary. For more information, call your local DMV about what you can do to better prepare for 2020.