Traffic laws are constantly evolving. As cities and states try to improve the safety of their roads and motorists, they update and add new laws drivers must follow. Obeying these laws can help drivers prevent vehicle collisions. Keeping up with the latest rules in your state can help you stay out of legal trouble as well. Almost every January 1st, new traffic laws go into effect in California. 2020 was no exception. A handful of new roadway rules went into effect on January 1, 2020 in the Golden State.
Distracted Driving – More Severe Penalties
New distracted driving legislation in California adds further penalties for an infraction. Using a cellphone while driving was already against the law in California. It is illegal for any California driver to use a handheld cellphone to talk or send messages. Motorists under 18 cannot use hands-free cellphones, either, except in emergencies. The penalties, however, have changed. In the past, the penalty was only a fine of $20 for a first offense and $50 for second and subsequent offenses. Plus assessments, these fines would total around $150 to $250 per offense.
Under a new law, starting on July 1, 2021, a distracted driving cellphone conviction will also result in points against your driver’s license as punishment. Unlawful cellphone use will assess one point to your license if you violated the law within 36 months of a prior conviction. California’s point system assigns different numbers of points to a driver’s license for committing traffic infractions.
If a driver collects more than 2 points in 12 months, 4 points in 24 months or 6 points in 36 months, he or she will receive a warning. One additional point in each timeframe (3, 5 or 7 points) can result in a letter from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) stating its intent to suspend your license. If you collect more than 4, 6 or 8 points in each window, you will lose the driving privilege for 6 months.
As of January 1, 2020, passengers riding in taxis, pedicabs, limousines, campers, housecars and buses (including party buses) cannot consume cannabis while riding. Legislators passed this law to help prevent secondhand smoke from impairing the drivers of these vehicles.
Foreign Service Driver’s License Rule
A new law in California states that the driver’s licenses of foreign service workers enlisted in the U.S. (and their spouses) will remain valid while they are out of the state, as well as for an additional 30 days from when they honorably stop providing the service or return to California.
Used Tire Regulations
Under a new state law, all automotive repair dealers must make sure used tires do not meet the criteria of unsafe tires before sale or installation, through the use of a visual inspection. If the dealer deems the tire to be unsafe, he or she cannot install the tire onto a vehicle. This law will not apply to tire repairs, balancing, rotation or a temporarily removed tire and wheel to be reinstalled on the same vehicle.
DMV Appointment Laws
It is now against the law to sell or offer to sell an appointment you have at any California Department of Motor Vehicles office. Lawmakers state that DMV appointments are free and not given with the purpose of anyone profiting from them. You could face fines or jail time for breaking this law.
Driver’s License Suspension Restrictions
It is now against the law for California courts and DMVs to suspend or delay a person’s driving privileges for the conviction of a crime that does not involve an infraction under the California Vehicle Code. The courts and the DMV cannot enforce a driver’s license suspension or revocation for committing a crime that does not involve a broken traffic law unless the crime involved the use or attempted use of a motor vehicle.
Stay up to date on all the latest traffic law changes in California with help from an expert car accident attorney.