Drivers beware: New laws governing various aspects of driving, from DUI testing to providing proof of insurance, went into effect on Jan. 1.
"The changes to California's traffic safety laws are designed to protect the motoring public," said California Highway Patrol (CHP) Commissioner Joe Farrow.
Here are some of the new laws to be aware of:
Urine test no longer option for DUI: People who have been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence no longer have an option between taking a urine or blood test. Now, the only choice is a blood test according to the law AB 2020, Driving Under the Influence.
No underage drinking in limousines, taxis: (AB 45): A new law, AB 45, prohibits underage drinking in limos, buses, or any chartered vehicle. The carrier and driver is responsible for communicating this to their passengers. The law also requires a designee, who is at least 25, to be present whenever there are passengers under 21 on board and alcohol is being transported.
Hands-free phone calls only: California drivers are able to use hands-free technology to talk and text while driving so long as they are using a device that is specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation to dictate, send or listen to a text-based communication.
According to the Electronic Wireless Communications law, AB 1536, the device must be used in a voice-operated, hands-free manner.
Electronic proof of insurance OK: According to AB 1708, drivers can now show proof of insurance and registration on an electronic device, like a smart phone or tablet.
"Clean" vehicles can carpool: AB 2405 creates the Choose Clean Cars Act, which allows cars with a Clean Air Vehicle Sticker free access to carpool lanes that are converted to High Occupancy Toll lanes.
"Silver Alert" for seniors: Similar to an AMBER Alert, the CHP can now activate a "Silver Alert" upon request if a person, age 65 or older, is reported missing to a law enforcement agency and that agency determines that certain criteria is met, such as the person going missing under unexplained circumstances or an indication that the person might be in danger.
Driver license for immigrants: AB 2189 allows a person who provides satisfactory proof that his presence in the United States is authorized under federal law, but who is not eligible for a social security account number, to receive an original driver's license if he meets all other requirements.
No altering license plates: AB 2489 prevents altering a license plate and clarifies the penalty imposed for obscuring the readability of license plates.
Autonomous vehicles OK (sometimes): This new law allows driverless cars, such as that being piloted by Google, to be operated on public roads for testing purposes, as long as there is a fully licensed person in the driver's seat who can take control if necessary.
These are only brief descriptions of some of the new traffic laws that have been adopted.
For complete information, visit the Legislative Counsel website at www.LegInfo.ca.gov.