New California traffic laws in effect for 2012 | 511 Contra Costa

New California traffic laws in effect for 2012

In addition to the London Summer Olympics, the next United States Presidential election, Batman and The Avengers (well, for some), we have a lot to look forward to in 2012.
As a driver, 2012 also brings a new set of traffic laws to keep in mind.

“Our hope is by educating the public of these new traffic safety laws in advance, more lives will be saved in the new year.” –CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow.

Although the following list is not comprehensive, a few of 2012’s major changes are below:
Double Parellel Solid White Lines
Vehicles will be prohibited from crossing double parallel solid white lines except where permitted. (AB 1105, Gordon)
Car and Booster Seat Requirements
A change to California’s Child Passenger Safety Seat law will now require children to ride in either a car seat or booster seat until the age of eight, or until they reach a height of 4 feet 9 inches. This law also requires children who do not meet the age or height requirement to ride in the rear seat of a vehicle unless the vehicle has no back seats, the restraint system cannot be properly installed or the rear seats are already occupied by children under age eight. However, the law still maintains that a child may not ride in the front seat of a vehicle with an active passenger airbag if they are under one year of age, less than 20 pounds, or riding in a rear-facing child safety seat. (SB 929, Evans)
Sobriety Checkpoints
Drivers are required to stop and submit to a sobriety checkpoint. However, peace officers will be prohibited from impounding a vehicle for 30 days out of a sobriety checkpoint if the only offense by the driver is failing to hold a valid driver license. The new law requires that the officer make a reasonable attempt to identify the registered owner in order to release the vehicle. (AB 353, Cedillo)
Restricted Drivers’ License Conditions
Anyone who is convicted of reckless driving under Section 23103.5 of the Vehicle Code can apply for a restricted driver license prior to the completion of their one-year suspension, provided they meet specified conditions, including the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device in their vehicle. (AB 520, Ammiano)

Double fine zones on Vasco Road
A segment of Vasco Road between I-580 in Alameda County and Walnut Boulevard in Contra Costa County has been re-designated as a double fine zone until January 1, 2017. (AB 348, Buchanan)
Electric Vehicles
Electric Vehicles (EV) must now be plugged in for refueling when occupying an EV-designated parking space, otherwise they may be towed. In addition, the law prohibits a person from obstructing, blocking, or otherwise barring access to an EV-designated parking space. (AB 475, Butler)
The County of Riverside, or any city within the county, has been permitted to develop a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle transportation plan. (AB 61, Jeffries & SB 290, Correa)
Inyo County, using a pilot program, has been granted authority to explore options for developing a greater network of linked Off-Highway Vehicle trails; they will be allowed to designate combined use highways on unincorporated county roads for up to 10 miles, subject to CHP approval. This program will remain in effect until January 1, 2017. (AB 628, Conway)
Regulation of advertising signs on motor vehicles
Local governments can now regulate advertising signs on any motor vehicle parked or left standing upon a public street, except for signs painted directly upon or permanently affixed to the vehicle for permanent decoration, identification, or display that do not extend beyond the overall length, width, or height of the vehicle. (AB 1298, Blumenfield)
Livestock carriers on 101
Licensed livestock carriers can continue to travel on Highway 101 within the counties of Del Norte, Humboldt, and Mendocino from its junction with Highway 1 near Leggett, north to the Oregon border until January 1, 2015. (AB 349, Chesbro)
DUI Repeat Offenses
A law dealing with repeat driving under the influence (DUI) offenders that was passed in 2010 also goes into effect on January 1:
Section 23579 was added to the Vehicle Code, which authorizes courts to revoke a driver’s license for 10 years if a person is convicted of three or more DUIs. Under this law enacted in 2010, a motorist may be allowed to apply for reinstatement of his or her driver’s license with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) after five years, if the person installs an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in their vehicle. The law allows the DMV to terminate this restricted license if the IID requirements are not met. (AB 1601, Hill)
The points above are only a synopsis of the new laws listed here and only a partial list of California’s new laws adopted for 2012. For complete information on chaptered bills enacted in 2011, please refer to the Legislative Counsel website at

For the CHP media release containing details of all changes to California’s traffic laws in 2012, download State’s Motorists to Ring in the New Year with New Laws (PDF) from the California Highway Patrol website.
Image credits (top to bottom): cauld ladsean dreilinger, ZanePaul Photos, CA DMV, wangkaiChrysler-Group, ***Karen, rabbit_mage, Greencolander

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