New Driving Laws in California for 2017

It’s a new year, and making plans to improve everything from healthy eating to learning effective meditation techniques are trending. The California legislature has made its New Year’s resolutions too, hoping to keep the roadways safe in 2017. Now it’s up to us to learn what these laws are, and implement them to avoid donating money to the state.

Basically, motorists, bicyclists and motorcyclists have a responsibility to keep up with new driving laws and changes in existing laws. However, it’s not something you’ll find on the front page. There are usually blurbs on the news, and the DMV publishes new rules in their handbook every year with all we need to do. We thought we’d make it easier for our viewers to stay abreast of laws enacted last year that began Jan.1, 2017 as well as others in the pipeline.

Drinking and Driving Got More Costly

While drinking and taking to the road is never a good idea, if you decide to do it, it will be an expensive decision. Aside from the fines and other penalties, drivers who drink and drive will have to pony up the cost of an ignition interlock device. In some California counties, including Los Angeles County, as well as Sacramento,Tulare and Alameda Counties, it is already in effect. First-time offenders are obligated to use an ignition interlock device for five months. With subsequent offenses, the device must be used for longer periods. For other California counties, SR 1046 will take effect in 2019, Installation of such devices costs the motorist approximately $100 and monthly fees range from $50 to $100 or more.

Using a cell phone is illegal in California while driving

Cell Phone Use in California – Don’t Swipe While Driving

The California law banning the use of handheld phones and electronic devices while driving is the toughest in the nation.The latest version makes sure drivers cannot swipe the phone’s display for any reason, in addition to texting and holding the phone to talk while driving.

Keep in mind that distracted driving happens when you try to multitask on the roadway, so talking on a phone while driving, even if you aren’t holding the phone at the time, increases your risk of being involved in an accident.

Under AB 1785, only hands-free and voice activated wireless communication or wireless phones are allowed. In addition, the device must be mounted in the same way you would mount a GPS, either on the center console or dashboard of your vehicle. The ban does not apply to emergency personnel operating from inside an emergency vehicle or to systems installed by the vehicle manufacturer.

Uber and Lyft Hiring Requirements Increased

Uber and Lyft are given new mandatory employee regulations. The companies are forbidden to hire drivers who have been convicted of a DUI during the previous seven years. In addition, drivers for these companies cannot register a blood alcohol content greater than 0.04 percent.

Other mandatory regulations include not hiring drivers convicted of a violent felony. Registered sex offenders will not be hired either.

Charter and School Bus Drivers – New Requirements

Drivers for common carriers such as school and charter buses are also dealing with new job duties. Charter bus drivers are now required to inform passengers via written or video instructions how to utilize safety equipment on the bus.

The drivers also must provide detailed information about getting to and using charter bus exits. Buses made after 2020 will have lighting that is automatically activated in an crash.

School bus drivers will receive additional training to prevent students from being left behind on a bus. This stems from an incident where a special needs teenager died when left behind in a hot bus.

Lane Splitting Remains Unaddressed by the California State Assembly

Lane Splitting, the practice of motorcycles passing vehicles traveling in the same direction in the same lane, is neither legal nor illegal in California. Under AB 51, the California Highway Patrol is directed to develop guidelines to help riders stay safe while lane splitting. No law was passed either legalizing lane splitting or making it illegal, however, speed limits are expected to be set.

Changes in how child car seats are used are new for 2017

Changes to Car Seat Safety Laws

Previous child safety seat laws in California required children under the age of 1 to be placed in rear-facing safety seats. The change in the law under AB 53, requires all children under the age of 2 to utilize rear-facing child safety seats. Children under 8 years of age or who are under 4’9” tall must either use a booster or car seat and be seated in the back seat of a motor vehicle.

California’s Mandatory Seat Belt law applies to ages 16 and over. Children, aged 8 and over, can use seat belts as long as the lap and shoulder belts fit properly. Otherwise, the child must use a car or booster seat.

There are exceptions to the seat belt laws for children. Use of an appropriate restraint system is allowed if the vehicle lacks a backseat, if the rear seats face the rear, if the vehicle has jump seats that face the side or if the seats cannot be installed properly in the vehicle. An exception is also allowed if all the rear seats are already occupied by children under the age of 7.

Medical conditions may also provide an exception but only if the parent has proof of that medical condition. When a child is riding in the front seat in a backwards-facing car seat, the air bag must be disabled because deployment of the air bag would endanger the child.

Protection Against Defective or Counterfeit Air Bags

This law, AB 2387, does not affect drivers directly but may indirectly. It prohibits the importation, intentional manufacture, installation, distribution, reinstallation or sale of air-bag systems that are faulty or counterfeit. In addition, the law prohibits the sale, installation or reinstallation of any device that might interfere with the diagnostic system of a motor vehicle in its detection of missing, counterfeit or non-functioning air bags.

Staying safe on the roadway is accomplished only if motorists and other travelers obey the law. However, there are situations where a driver is unaware of changes in law, particularly at the start of a new year. Taking the time to bone up on new regulations is always a wise decision. Additional reading material can be found at the California DMV site.

Above all, David Azizi cares about the safety of Californians. As a father and a driver, he knows all too well how important this is. He has represented many clients who were injured due to another driver’s failure to obey the rules of the road. For experienced, compassionate representation in personal injury cases, car and truck accident cases and beyond, contact David at 1-800-991-5292 or 1-213-673-1466.


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