New California Auto Laws

Auto laws in California are complicated and ever changing. Here are some you need know when driving.

Using a Cell Phone While Driving

As of July 1, 2008, the law requires the use of hands-free wireless phones when driving.

As of January 1, 2017, using a smartphone for GPS location services no longer exempts drivers from the ban on using wireless phones while driving.

Drivers are allowed to use only one finger to interact with the GPS application while driving.

Under the new law, drivers can use a smartphone for driving directions only if the phone is mounted on the lower right-hand, or lower left-hand corner of the windshield. Mounting a smartphone in the middle of the windshield is not allowed and will be ticketed.

Electronic Filing of Proof of Auto Insurance

Starting January 1, 2007, all insurance carriers are required to report proof of insurance to the DMV electronically.

Details of the Vehicle Registration Financial Responsibility Program are as follows:

  • If a vehicle registration is suspended, proof of insurance must be submitted with $14.00 to reinstate it.
  • If the DMV does not receive proof of insurance on an insured vehicle, there could be a discrepancy in the VIN #, either on the carrier’s policy or at the DMV.
  • Proof of insurance must be received within 30 days for a newly acquired vehicle.
  • If you switch insurance services, proof of the new insurance must be received within 45 days.

Hybrid Vehicles HOV (Carpool) Lanes

Extends the Clean Air Vehicle program to 2011 and allows for additional hybrid stickers to be issued.

Child Safety Seat Laws

As of January 1, 2017, children under the age of 2 must be seated in the back seat in rear-facing car seats.

Children taller than 40 inches or heavier than 40 pounds are exempt from this law.

Passing Emergency Vehicles on a Highway

Drivers are required to take specific precautionary actions when passing a stopped emergency vehicle with emergency lights activated on the highway.

Commercial Driver License Regulations

The regulations for commercial driver licenses have been tightened. Tougher penalties will be applied for DUI and gross vehicular manslaughter convictions, as well as for leaving the scene of an accident, regardless of whether the violation occurred in a commercial vehicle.

Driver’s License Suspension for DUI

The mandatory suspension period for DUI offenses has been increased for cases when the blood alcohol concentration was 0.20% or greater. It has also been made a citable offense for a person under the age of 21 to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.01%

New Driving Infraction

A new infraction has been created for knowingly permitting a person to ride in the trunk while driving a motor vehicle. If convicted, both the driver and passenger will be subject to fines, and the driver will receive one negligent operator point on his or her driving record.

Reckless Driving/Racing

The penalties for a first-time conviction of reckless driving or engaging in a speed contest, when resulting in specified injuries to a person other than the driver, have been increased. These penalties include fines up to $1,000 or up to six months of incarceration.

Access to Driving Records

A new prohibition is in place to prevent “data mining” from dealer databases without the dealer’s consent.

Additionally, requesters are allowed access to DUI conviction information from the past ten years, which currently only law enforcement and the courts are able to access.