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What Are The New Driving Laws in California for 2021?

It is a well-known fact that California has some of the strictest driving laws in the United States, so it is always a good idea to keep up to date with new laws that pass to make sure you do not find yourself with an unexpected ticket or worse.

If you are wondering “are turbos legal in California?” or “is tuning legal in California?” now that new laws have been passed, none of the changes in the law have affected those topics and the same rules apply now that did before.  

Laws regarding vehicle modifications and customizations aren’t the only important laws. Everyone still has to follow the rules of the road but sometimes they are hard to keep up with. The following are the law changes regarding driving for 2021.

Handheld Cellphone Use and License Points

Although there are no new laws that are about illegal car modifications in Los Angeles California, there are new laws regarding penalties about what you can do while driving.

A new law, Assembly Bill No. 47, Daly 2019 extends penalties beyond just a ticket for texting and driving.

We all know that texting while driving is not safe and can get you a ticket but it can now also put points on your driving record and increase your insurance rates.

Assembly Bill No. 47, Daly will add a point to your license every time you are found in violation of this law after the first time you are found guilty of being in violation in a 36 month period.

This law does not only apply to texting while driving but any handheld use of a cell phone.

If you use a hands-free means to use your cellphone, you will not be in violation of this law. If the driver is under 18 years old, though, they are not permitted to use a cellphone at all, even with handless options. Assembly Bill No. 47, Daly 2019 became effective January 1, 2021.

Unattended Children

It seems like every week there is a new case of someone forgetting their child in a vehicle. Sadly, many of these stories end in tragedy. Unfortunately, many witnesses often worry about what consequences they will face if they intervene when stumbling upon a child in a locked vehicle. California State Law Assembly Bill No. 2717 tries to remedy this problem.

If you are driving through a parking lot trying to find a space and notice a baby in a car seat on a hot summer day, you are completely exempt from any criminal or civil liability for trespassing that person’s vehicle to rescue the child according to Assembly Bill No. 2717.

In fact, if the vehicle is locked and you have to damage the vehicle to get the child out, perhaps by smashing a window, you are not liable for that either. Assembly Bill No. 2717 only applies if a child is 6 years old or below and if there is some sort of danger. This could mean that there is not enough ventilation in the vehicle, that the child is being exposed to extremes of temperature (either hot or cold), or other dangerous situations.

Stationary Emergency Vehicles

California State Law Assembly Bill No. 2285, like Assembly Bill No. 47, Daly 2019, is an extension of existing law. The “Move Over, Slow Down” law now doesn’t only apply to freeways but also to local roads and streets throughout California.

According to Assembly Bill No. 2285, when you are coming up to a vehicle with emergency lights on, be it an ambulance, tow truck, or Caltrans, you are required to move to another lane if at all possible and slow down to a reasonable speed. This law, too, came into effect on January 1, 2021.

New Warning Sound

We all know the sound of ambulance, police, and fire truck sirens, what they mean, and how we should react. There is a new sound though that will be implemented in California that hopefully you will never have to hear: the “Hi-Lo” warning sound.

Senate Bill No. 909, Dodd, allows for the use of the “Hi Lo” warning sound to alert the public to an imminent danger and to evacuate the area immediately. The exact regulations are still being worked out. In the meantime, permits can be requested by authorities to use this siren when there is an emergency where evacuation is needed.

Hopefully, you are never faced with this situation but it is good to know what this distinctive new noise is and what it means.

Bicyclist Laws

Although this law doesn’t apply to figuring out how to pass the California emissions test with a modified car, like you may be wondering about, it does help prevent fatal bicycle vs. vehicle accidents to know about.

California State Law Assembly Bill No. 1266 became effective January 1, 2021 and allows bicycle riders to go straight through a left-hand turn-only or right-hand turn-only lane at an intersection.

This only applies if the intersection in question has a stoplight that allows for this to safely occur. Knowing that this is now accepted will help you to predict the movements of those around you and reduce the likelihood of an accident.

Consumption of Cannabis

Although this law doesn’t affect what you can do while driving a vehicle (since driving under the influence has been prohibited for a long, long time), it does affect what you can do as a passenger. According to California State Law Assembly Bill No. 1810, no one is permitted to consume cannabis of any form as a passenger of a bus, taxi, limo, house car, or camper, though you are still allowed to drink in some of these vehicles.

Interestingly, this Assembly Bill also revises the California vehicle code that handles motor carrier permits. Assembly Bill No. 1810 states that motor carriers of property can operate vehicles for up to 30 days past the permit’s expiration. This applies to any person, organization, or business that is paid to transport any type of property. For example, this even applies to motorcycle couriers. 

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