The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) highlighted several new laws and/or changes to existing laws that become effective Tuesday, January 1, 2019.
AB544: Vehicles—High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes
Low-emission and transitional zero-emission vehicles have enjoyed access to high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes for about four years regardless of the vehicle occupancy level. Effective January 1, 2019, the green or white decals that authorized their HOV access will no longer be valid. However, vehicles issued a green or white decal between January 1, 2017 and March 1, 2018 can apply for a red decal that will grant them access to HOV lanes until January 1, 2022. The DMV will also issue light purple decals in 2019 that will grant access to HOV lanes until January 1, 2023.
AB 516: Temporary License Plate Program
Licensed dealers of new and used vehicles in California will be required to attach temporary paper license plates on a vehicle at the point of sale if the vehicle does not already display license plates. The temporary paper plate must contain a unique number and expiration date. The intent of this new law is to reduce the number of toll violators and improve safety for law enforcement.
SB 179: Gender Identity Female, Male, or Nonbinary
Individuals applying for a California driver license or identification card can now self-certify their chosen gender category of male, female or nonbinary in the application. Those who select nonbinary will receive a card with an “X” in the gender category.
SB 1046: Driving Under the Influence – Ignition Interlock Device
Repeat offenders of driving under the influence (DUI) and first DUI offenders whose violations resulted in injury, will be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) for a period ranging from 12 to 48 months. Individuals whose driving privileges are suspended under the Administrative Per Se law can obtain an IID-restricted driving privilege and receive credit toward their required IID restriction period if they are later convicted of a DUI. Administrative Per Se laws provide an entirely separate layer of consequences an individual can encounter for drinking and driving, on top of the criminal charges they may face for driving while under the influence. This law applies to DUI violations involving alcohol or the combined use of alcohol and drugs, however it does not apply to drug-only violations.
AB 1274: Smog Check Changes and New Abatement Fees
The existing smog check exemption for vehicles up to six model years old is expanded eight model years. The current annual $20 smog abatement fee for the first six years of exemption remains unchanged however vehicles owners will pay an annual $25 smog abatement fee during the additional two years of exemption.
AB 2685: Driving Privilege for Minors
Juvenile court’s no longer have the authority to suspend, restrict or delay the issuance of a driver license of a habitual truant or ward of the state for up to one year. Suspensions or delays reported prior to January 1, 2019, will remain in effect.
AB 2989: Motorized Scooters
Those 18 years of age and older who ride motorized scooters are no longer required to wear bicycle helmets. Individuals are also prohibited from operating a motorized scooter on a highway with a speed limit greater than 25 miles per hour unless it is within a Class II or Class IV bikeway. Under the law, local authorities can authorize motorized scooters to operate on roads with speed limits up to 35 miles per hour outside of a Class II or IV bikeway.
AB 1925: Unsafe, unsecured loads on vehicles
Unsecured loads, such as ladders, buckets and loose items in the back of pickup trucks must be covered or secured because they are dangerous for motorists when they fall onto the road. As a result, the DMV will now include at least one question addressing laws related to driving with an unsafe, unsecured load in at least 20 percent of the knowledge tests administered to driver license applicants.