NEW CALIFORNIA TRAFFIC LAWS IN EFFECT FOR 2013 – 511 Contra Costa

NEW CALIFORNIA TRAFFIC LAWS IN EFFECT FOR 2013

View of San Francisco from Oakland across the Bay Bridge
Happy New Year from 511CC!
The California legislature has released a new set of traffic laws in effect for 2013, to be enforced by the CHP and other agencies.

“The changes to California’s traffic safety laws are designed to protect the motoring public,” – CHP  Commissioner Joe Farrow.

Here are some of the new laws effective January 1, 2013.
Take a minute to familiarize yourself with the changes:
Image credit: sicarr via Flickr

marijuana leafDriving Under the Influence (2020)

The law no longer allows a person who has been arrested and is suspected of driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs, the option of a urine test. Only blood tests be used to determine the drug content of a person’s blood.

champagne in limoCharter-Party Carriers of Passengers (45)

Prohibits underage drinking in charter-party carriers (limos, buses, etc.) and makes the carrier and driver responsible for communicating this to their passengers. Requires a designee, who is at least 25 years of age, to be present whenever there are passengers who are under 21 years of age on board the vehicle and alcohol is being transported. The designee shall be responsible for ensuring the rules are followed, and the safety of the underage passengers throughout the duration of the trip.

texting whiile drivingElectronic Wireless Communications (1536)

This law allows California drivers to use hands-free technology to talk and text while driving. This will require the use of a device that is specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation to dictate, send or listen to a text-based communication. The device is required to also be used in a voice-operated, hands-free manner to be in compliance with the law.

pulled overFinancial Responsibility and Insurance (1708)

Drivers will now have the option of providing proof of insurance and registration on an electronic device (smartphone, tablet, etc.), when it is requested by law enforcement.

clean airHigh Occupancy Toll Lanes (2405)

This law creates the Choose Clean Cars Act, which allows cars with a Clean Air Vehicle Sticker free access to carpool lanes that are converted to High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes.

self drivingAutonomous Vehicles (1298)

This new law allows driverless cars to be operated on public roads for testing purposes, provided that each vehicle has a fully licensed and bonded operator in the driver’s seat to take control if necessary. The bill also instructs the DMV to adopt regulations that govern  the licensing, bonding, testing and operation of autonomous vehicle technology.

amber alertEmergency Services: Seniors (1047)

Similar to an AMBER Alert, the CHP would activate a “Silver Alert” upon request if a person, age 65 or older, is reported missing to a law enforcement agency and that agency determines that certain criteria is met. The criteria includes: the person is missing under unexplained or suspicious circumstances or the law enforcement agency believes the person is in danger due to age, health, mental or physical disability, environment or weather conditions; the person is in the company of a potentially dangerous person; or there are other factors indicating that the person may be in peril.

SocialDriver License (2189)

This law allows a driver’s license applicant who provides satisfactory proof that his or her presence in the United States is authorized under federal law, but who is not eligible for a social security account number, is eligible to receive an original driver’s license if he or she meets all other qualifications for licensure.

red lightAutomated Traffic Enforcement Systems (1303)

This new law establishes consistency in the operations of red-light enforcement cameras throughout the state by requiring governmental agencies to follow specified guidelines regarding intersections, signage, and the notice to appear.

license plateLicense Plates (2489)

This new law prevents the altering and positioning of license plates from its original markings and clarifies the penalty imposed for obscuring the readability of license plates.

car seatChild Passenger Restraints (1452)

Hospitals, clinics, and birthing centers will now be required to provide and discuss contact information regarding child safety seat requirements, installation, and inspection to parents and caregivers upon discharge of a child, if the child is less than eight years of age.

ROVRecreational off-highway vehicles (two new laws)

1. (1595) Defines an off-highway motor vehicle to include a recreational off-highway vehicle (ROV) and establishes additional requirements governing its safe operation.
2. (1266) Effective July 1, 2013, prohibits a passenger in an ROV from riding in a seat location not designed and provided by the manufacturer. It also prohibits operation of the ROV if the passenger is not seated with both feet on the floorboard and able to grab the occupant handhold with the seat belt and shoulder belt or safety harness fastened.

theftAdditional Registration Fees (1404)

This law authorizes three counties (Los Angeles, San Diego and San Bernardino) to increase vehicle registration fees to help fund vehicle theft programs. Increases would be from $1 to $2 for passenger vehicles, and $2 to $4 for commercial vehicles.

air bagInflatable Restraint Systems (1854)

This law makes it illegal for a person to knowingly distribute or sell a previously deployed air bag or component that will no longer meet the original equipment form, function or proper operation.

beer cansDriving Under the Influence: Alcoholic Beverage or Drug (2552)

Although this change in the law does not take effect until January 1, 2014, it distinguishes whether an individual was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Ultimately this change, singling out drugs with its own subsection in the Vehicle Code, will make it easier to track the prevalence of drugged driving in California. This new law, coupled with the efforts requiring the use of Ignition Interlock Devices, will help reduce impaired driving throughout California.


To read the full text of each bill, visit the official California Legislative site, click the Bill Information tab. Enter the bill number listed in parentheses next to each new law above (e.g. 1854) next to “Bill Number:” and select 2011-2012 next to “Session Year:”, then click Search.
Click to download the official CHP press release.
Previous Lists Summarizing New California Traffic Laws by Year:

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