In addition to other changes happening around the nation, this election year has also resulted in several new laws that will take effect on Jan. 1, 2017, in California. California Department of Motor Vehicles wants you know about these transportation-related laws before taking your vehicles on the roads starting this New Year's Day.
Use of Electronic Wireless Devices (AB 1786, Quirk)
Holding wireless telephones or other electronic communication devices while driving will be prohibited unless it’s mounted on the vehicle’s windshield or dashboard that doesn’t require drivers to look away from the road often. The drivers can only activate or deactivate a feature or function on the device with the motion of a single finger swipe or tap.
Child Safety Seats (AB 53, Garcia)
If your child is younger than 2 years of age, weighs less than 40 pounds and shorter than 40 inches in height, then this new law requires them to be seated in a properly secured, appropriate rear-facing passenger restraint system seat.
Motorcycle Lane Splitting (AB 51, Quirk)
Starting in 2017, the California Highway Patrol can develop educational guidelines for lane splitting for two-wheeled motorcycles to help ensure safety of the motorcyclists, drivers and passengers on the road. The law requires the CHP to consult with specified agencies and organizations that have an interest in road safety.
Vehicle Registration Fee (SB 838, Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review)
Beginning on April 1, 2017, the vehicle registration fee on every vehicle or trailer coach will increase from $43 to $53. And no, this is not an April Fools’ Day joke.
Environmental License Plate (SB 839, Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review)
Fees for renewal, retention, transfer or duplication of Environmental Licence Plates will increase from $38 to $43 starting on New Year’s Day. The law also increases fees for the issuance of these personalized license plates from $43 to $53, beginning on July 1, 2017.
Accident Reporting (SB 491, Committee on Transportation and Housing)
This law increases the minimum financial threshold for property damage of a vehicle involved in a road collision to $1,000 (from $750) in order to be reported to the DMV.
Vehicle Safety Recalls (AB 287, Gordon)
This law enacts the Consumer Automotive Recall Safety Act. It requires the DMV to include general advisory on each vehicle registration renewal notice of cars that are being recalled or need repairs. The law also prohibits dealer from renting out any vehicle with a recall 48 hours after receiving the notice.
Year of Manufacture License Plates (SB 1429, Nielsen)
This law extends the Year of Manufacture license plate program to include plates that were manufactured through the 80s. SB 1429 will benefit owners of vintage motor vehicles who wish to keep their car’s original license plate instead of trading in for a regular one.
Background Checks of Drivers of Transportation Network Companies (AB 1289, Cooper)
Ride-booking companies like Uber and Lyft are required to perform a thorough background check of all their drivers. These companies cannot employ or contract with any driver who is a registered sex offender on the U.S. Department of Justice National Sex Offender website, a felony or has been convicted of any misdemeanor assault, battery, domestic violence or DUI within the past seven years. Penalty for each offense ranges from $1,000 to more than $5,000.
Installing Counterfeit or Nonfunctional Air Bags (AB 2387, Mullin)
This law prohibits any person and companies from knowingly and intentionally manufacturing, importing, installing or distributing any device that is intended to replace an airbag system in a motor vehicle if the device was a counterfeit, nonfunctional or doesn’t meet the federal safety requirements. Another misdemeanor violation (punishable by a $5,000 fine or up to one year in jail) includes prohibition of selling, installing or reinstalling devices that would cause a vehicle's diagnostic system to fail.