A few new laws will be going into effect on Monday with the rollover of the calendar year. Not much that will impact your day to day life, unless you’re a street racer who gets caught or like to tote your pals around in your trunk.
New laws include a fine an points on your license for transporting people in your trunk, stiffer penalties for drag racing and DUI. Other changes include extending the Safe at Home privacy protections for folks who are victims of domestic violence or stalking and some other new laws about data mining information from car dealerships about their customers.
The new rules for hands-free cell phones don’t go into effect until January, 2008.
Following is an abbreviated summary of the new laws that in most cases will take effect Jan. 1, 2007, unless indicated otherwise.
(Note: ‘AB’ denotes a bill that was originated in the California State Assembly, and ‘SB’ denotes a bill that originated in the California State Senate. The names after the bill numbers are the persons who authored the bills. All of the bills have been signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.)
1. DRIVER LICENSING, DRIVER SAFETY, FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY:
* AB 1850 (Mountjoy)–Creates a new infraction for either allowing a person to ride or actually ride in the trunk of a car. Persons found guilty will be subject to a fine, and the driver will have a negligent operator point” attached to his/her license.
* AB 2190 (Benoit)–Increases the penalties for reckless driving or engaging in a speed contest of some kind. Specified injuries to others as a result would subject first-offenders to hefty fines and jail or prison time ranging from 30 days to six months.
* AB 2542 (Daucher)–Requires DMV to use grant money to continue the study of a non-age based Three-Tier Driver Assessment system to identify functional impairments in California drivers. The department has developed a program that will soon be piloted in several DMV offices in Northern California for further evaluation.
* SB 1610 (Simitian)–Requires drivers to take specific precautionary actions on a highway when passing a stopped emergency vehicle when emergency lights are activated. The law makes it an infraction not to properly comply with directions from on-scene personnel.
* SB 1613 (Simitian)–Establishes the California Wireless Telephone Act that as of July 1, 2008, prohibits drivers from operating their vehicles while using a hand-held cell phone. Hands-free devices are allowed, and there are a several exemptions for emergency use. Persons who are cited will face a $20 fine for a first offense, and a $50 fine for each subsequent offense.
* SB 1756 (Migden)–Increases the mandatory suspension of driver licenses from 6 months to 10 months for any first DUI offense when the person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is .20 or higher. The legal threshold for a DUI offense is .08.
2. RECORDS AND CONFIDENTIALITY
* SB 1586 (Lowenthal)–Allows greater public access, including insurance companies, to DUI conviction information for violations that occurred in the past 10 years; currently only law-enforcement and the courts are able to access this information for that specific length of time.
* AB 2169 (Mountjoy)–Extends the “Safe at Home Law” for five years to Jan. 1, 2013. This program is run by the California Secretary of State’s Office, and creates an alternative driver license address for victims of domestic violence and/or stalking. The law also allows DMV to continue “suppressing” victims’ license and vehicle registration records.
* AB 2291 (Evans)–Prohibits computer vendors, vehicle manufacturers and other specified entities from accessing personal information from a vehicle dealer’s computer system that stores customers’ private information without the dealer consent. (The practice is known as “data mining.”)
3. VEHICLE REGISTRATION
* AB 2600 (Lieber)–Requires owners of hybrid vehicles in the nine San Francisco Bay-Area counties that have been issued Clean Air Stickers by DMV to maintain enrollment in the FasTrak automated toll-collection program administered by the Metropolitan Transit Authority so that proper tolls can continue to be collected by hybrid drivers who live and work in the area.
* AB 2120 (Liu)–Allows nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and physicians’ assistants to substantiate a disability for the purpose of allowing the issuance of a disabled or a disabled veteran’s placard. Current law allows only licensed physicians to certify a disability to obtain a placard.