California's New Traffic Laws Taking Effect in 2019

Every year the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) reminds the public about new traffic laws hitting the books across the state and 2019 was no exception.

It's not always top of mind for drivers to read up on the latest laws, but it's important to stay aware of changes or new laws that may affect you now or in near future.

Keep in mind, the new law changes aren't only for drivers! All Californians should take note because they affect bicyclists, pedestrians, and those who ride scooters.

As of January 1, 2019, the following new traffic laws are in effect across California:

Vehicles: temporary license plates.

AB 516, Mullin

Licensed California dealers of new and used automobiles are required to attach temporary license plates on a vehicle if there hasn't been one issued by the California DMV. Each paper license plate should contain a different number for recognition.

Driving under the influence: ignition interlock device.

SB, 1046, Hill

Law requires the DMV to suspend a driver's license for a specified period if the person drives under the influence with a blood-alcohol concentration above legal limits. Effective January 1, 2019 through January 1, 2026, this bill will make a driver who has been suspended for driving under the influence eligible for an installation of an ignition interlock device for a duration of 12 to 48 months.

Smog check: exemption.

AB 1274, O' Donnell

This bill expands the exemption for smog checks on vehicles up to six years old, to eight years old. An annual smog abatement fee of $25 will be assessed to drivers who own motor vehicles models between six to eight years old.

Vehicles: unsafe, unsecured load.

AB 1925, Choi

This bill requires the DMV to administer at least one question on at least 20% of driver's license tests that addresses the test attendees knowledge that driving with unsecure loads, is a criminal offense and is a safety hazard.

Driving privilege: minors

AB 2685, Lackey

Under law, this cancels a judge's decision issued on or after January 1, 2019 to suspend or delay a driver license for a minor who is a habitual truant.

Motorized scooter: use of helmet: maximum speed.

AB 2989, Flora

Bicycle helmets for those who ride motorized scooters over the age of 18 are no longer required in the state of California. Motorized scooters are forbidden on highways with a speed limit greater than 25 miles and roads with a speed limit greater than 35 miles unless there a marked bikeway is visible.

HOV Lane Usage

AB 2989, Flora

Clean Air Vehicles with green and white decals are no longer able to access the state's High Occupancy Vehicle lanes (effective January 1, 2019). Clean air vehicles with purple decals will have access to the HOV lanes until January 1, 2023 and clean air vehicles with red decals will have access until January 1, 2022.

For more information and the latest updates on traffic laws, be sure to check out the California DMV website.


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