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New laws for motorists target impounded vehicles and license fees

LOS ANGELES – During 2009, the California state legislature approved a number of new laws of interest to Auto Club members and motorists.

Assembly Bill (AB) 62 permits a person to drive a motor vehicle with a video screen that is displaying a TV or video signal, located in the vehicle’s front-seat area, as long as the video screen is designed, operated, and configured in a manner that prevents the driver of the vehicle from viewing the show or video.

Another new law, AB 14, authorizes cities or counties to adopt local ordinances stating that if a person is arrested for using a vehicle to commit or attempt to commit a crime of prostitution or illegal commercial dumping, that vehicle may be considered a public nuisance and impounded for up to 30 days, if the person has at least one prior conviction for either of those crimes in the previous three years. AB 14 also requires vehicle-storage facilities to accept a bank credit or debit card or cash for payment of towing, storage and related fees. Storage-facility operators who refuse to accept a credit or debit card or cash shall be civilly liable for four times the amount of the fees, not to exceed $500.

The legislature has raised the cost of new and renewed driver’s licenses from $28 to $31. A duplicate driver’s license now costs $25, and an identification card now costs $24. Also, effective May 19, 2009, the legislature nearly doubled the effective rate of the vehicle license fee (VLF), raising it from 0.65 percent to 1.15 percent of the vehicle’s assessed value. The higher VLF rate will be in effect until July 1, 2013, unless it is extended or made permanent.

Senate Bill (SB) 240 makes permanent the Move Over law, which is intended to enhance safety around emergency vehicles or tow trucks stopped on freeways. Drivers approaching a stationary emergency vehicle or tow truck with its siren or emergency lights activated must proceed with caution and move into an available lane not immediately adjacent to the emergency vehicle or tow truck. If such a move is not safe, practicable, or legal, the driver must slow to a reasonable and prudent speed that is safe for existing conditions. Under SB 240, motorists must also move over for California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) vehicles.


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