With 2021 now upon us, you should be aware of these three new laws affecting motorists:
- Unattended children in motor vehicles: Exempts a person from civil or criminal liability for trespassing or damaging a vehicle when rescuing a child who is 6 years old or younger in immediate danger from heat, cold, lack of ventilation, or other dangerous circumstances. [Effective Jan. 1, 2021]
- “Move Over, Slow Down” amendments: The “Move Over, Slow Down” law has been expanded to apply to local streets and roads. Drivers approaching a stationary emergency vehicle displaying emergency lights, including tow trucks and Caltrans vehicles, must move to another lane when possible, or slow to a reasonable speed on all highways, not just freeways. [Effective Jan. 1, 2021]
- Points for distracted driving: Beginning July 1, violating the hands-free law for a second time within 36 months of a prior conviction for the same offense will result in a point being added to a driving record.
For more information on new driving-related laws taking effect in 2021, click below.
A number of transportation-related laws take effect on January 1, 2020. Below, we’ve highlighted those affecting most road users. To read the full text of any law, click the link to the right of the headline.
- Bicyclists May Travel Straight Through Turn Lanes (AB 1266): Cyclists will be allowed to proceed straight through turn lanes (both right and left) at intersections, as long as the traffic light signal indicates that vehicles may travel straight through the intersection.
- Motorized Scooters Will No Longer Require a Motorcycle License to Operate (AB 1810): In 2019, you could use an electric scooter if you had either a driver’s license or learner’s permit. However, operating other types of motorized scooters required a motorcycle (class M1 or M2) license. In 2020, no specialized license will be required for motorized scooters – a driver’s license or learner’s permit will suffice. Note: Motorized scooters cannot be ridden on sidewalks, and a helmet is required when using one.
- Extension of Program Allowing Low-Emission Vehicles to Use HOV Lanes (AB 544) An existing program allowing low-emission and transitional zero-emission vehicles access to HOV lanes, regardless of vehicle occupancy, has been extended. In 2020, the DMV will issue orange decals to qualifying vehicles. They will be valid until January 1, 2024.
- Illegal for Vehicle Passengers to Consume Marijuana (AB 1810): The exemption allowing passengers to consume marijuana while in a bus, limousine, taxi, pedicab, housecar or camper expires at the end of 2019. The exemption allowing passengers in these types of vehicles to drink alcohol will remain in effect.
For more laws taking effect in 2020 that affect motorists, visit the DMV website.
NOTE: Starting Oct. 1, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will require U.S. residents to have a federally approved document, like a REAL ID driver’s license or ID card, to board domestic flights. The DMV encourages Californians to apply for their REAL ID when they renew their driver’s license or at their earliest convenience. For more information, check out the FAQ for getting a REAL ID.