Now that 2019 has arrived, there are several new traffic laws in California that immediately take effect—from drunk driving cases to wearing helmets.
Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs) for Drunk Drivers
From January 2019 to January 2026, repeat DUI offenders and first-time DUI involving an injury are required to install an IID for between 12 and 48 months. Furthermore, if an individual had their driver’s license suspended because of the Administrative Per Se law, they can gain restricted driving privileges if they install an IID in their vehicle, as well as receive credit for having the device installed if he/she is later convicted of drunk driving.
If a person commits a first-time DUI that doesn’t involve an injury, courts can decide whether to have him/her install an IID for up to six months. However, if a first-time offender loses his license because of the arrest, he/she can obtain a hardship license by installing an IID.
If you are 18 years of age or older, you no longer must wear a bicycle helmet while riding a motorized scooter. Keep in mind, motorized scooters are only allowed on Class II and IV bikeways and other roadways with a maximum speed limit of 25 mph. If you are under 18 years old, riding a bicycle, skateboard, or scooter without a helmet will result in a fix-it ticket, which costs $25.
Previously only applying to vehicles up to six model years old, a new law expands the smog check exemption to eight model years old. Cars that are seven or eight years old must pay an annual $25 smog abatement fee, while vehicles six years old or new will pay a $20 fee.
Low- & Zero-Emission Vehicles
The Clean Air Vehicle (CAV) decal programs allow low- and zero-emission vehicles to use High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes—also known as carpool lanes—no matter how many occupants are in the vehicle. Green and white decals are now expired. However, if you received a green or white decal between January 2017and March 2018, you can request a red decal to gain access to HOV lanes until January 2022. Light violet decals will be issued in 2019 and are valid until January 2023.
Privileges for Minor Drivers
Courts no longer have the jurisdiction to restrict, delay, or suspend issuing a minor’s driver’s license due to being truant for one year.
Passing Waste Service Vehicles
If you wish to overtake a waste collection vehicle when the amber lights are flashing, you need to move over to the adjacent lane and pass it at a safe distance. If doing that is unsafe, you must drive at a reasonable and safe speed.
Hit-and-Run on Bike Paths
The provision of felony hit-and-run laws has been extended. Drivers who are involving in a collision with a bicyclist causing injury or death on Class I bikeways are required to stay at the scene.
Unsafe or Unsecured Vehicle Cargo
In written exams (knowledge tests) on California traffic laws, at least one question on 20 percent of these tests must address the unsecured load code to understand that dumping or abandoning animals is a crime.