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New year ushers in new rules for the road


Last updated 1/3/2008 at Noon

SACRAMENTO — With a new year just beginning, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) wants to remind motorists of a handful of new laws, passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Schwarzenegger, that go into effect in 2008.

“These new laws will make California’s roads safer for motorists and will strengthen law enforcement’s ability to crack down on those who try to skirt the law,” says CHP Commissioner Mike Brown.

Below are the major changes to driving regulations and vehicle equipment.

Wireless telephones

SB 1613, Simitian

This law makes it illegal to use a wireless telephone while driving, unless that phone is designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking operation and is used in that manner.

The law provides an exemption for emergency purposes.

The law banning the use of handheld cell phones by motorists goes into effect July 1.

Wireless telephones, under 18

SB 33, Simitian

This law makes it illegal for a minor to use a wireless telephone (even if it is hands-free) or other mobile service device (any device used to communicate electronically) while operating a vehicle.

The law provides an exemption for emergency purposes.

This law goes into effect July 1.

Smoking with minor passengers

SB 7, Oropeza

This law prohibits anyone in a vehicle from smoking when a minor is present, whether the vehicle is stopped or moving.

This is a secondary violation. An officer cannot stop a driver to determine if they are in violation.

This law went into effect Jan 1.

Double-fine zones

AB 112, Wolk

This law establishes a process and criteria for the designation of double-fine zones and deems that Highway 12 meets that criteria.

It designates the segment between I-80 in Solano County and I-5 junction in San Joaquin County as a Safety Enhancement Double Fine Zone.

This law went into effect Jan 1.

Coating license plates

AB 801, Walters

This law prohibits the use or sale of a “product” (spray coating) that impairs the reading of a license plate by electronic devices such as red-light cameras, toll booth cameras and license plate readers.

This law went into effect Jan 1.

False registration

AB 1589, Duvall

This law, sponsored by the CHP, allows a peace officer to tow a vehicle that is displaying false registration, false license plates or fraudulent registration or registration stickers.

Previous policy was to cite and only tow if the registration was more than six months out of date.

This law went into effect Jan 1.

Electric personal assistive mobility devices

AB 470, DeSaulnier

This law expands on the current law, making it illegal to operate an electric personal assistive mobility device (such as a Segway) at an unsafe speed for conditions, in a reckless manner or at a speed that endangers the safety of others.

Operators must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians on foot and disabled persons.

This law went into effect Jan 1.

Bicycle illumination

AB 478, Wolk

This law requires a person operating a bicycle during darkness to use lights and reflectors while riding upon a highway, sidewalk or bikeway.

This law went into effect Jan 1.


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