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New California DMV Laws for 2019

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The beginning of 2019 signals major changes for California. Effective on January 1st, the state ushered in a series of new laws that govern everything from gun control to plastic straws in restaurants. The California Department of Motor Vehicles will enact a series of new laws and changes that will affect California vehicles, licenses, and drivers.

To learn more about these laws, contact our Orange County personal injury lawyers for more information.

New Regulations for Passing Sanitation Trucks

Under Assembly Bill 2115, the state will apply new traffic laws for passing waste service vehicles. If a driver approaches a sanitation truck with its amber lights flashing, the driver will need to move into another lane and pass the truck at a distance. If a lane change is not possible, the driver will have to slow down. This law is to prevent sanitation workers from collisions with oncoming traffic.

Greater Gender Identity Options

According to Senate Bill 179, people who apply for a California driver’s license or identification card can select their own gender. Applicants can choose between male, female, or non-binary for their gender options. On licenses and ID cards, the state will mark non-binary as an “X” in the gender category.

Low Emissions Vehicle Sticker Program

Under Assembly Bill 544, California will circulate new decals for low emission vehicles to travel in carpool lanes, also known as High Occupancy Vehicle lanes (HOV). Low emissions vehicles have used green and white decals for HOV travel since 2017. Drivers will have to upgrade to a red decal, which increases their HOV eligibility until 2022. Drivers can also opt for a light violet decal with HOV access until 2023.

DMV Written Exam Updates

The DMV will have to update 20% of their written exams to include at least one question about California’s unsecured load code, according to Assembly Bill 1925. The purpose of this update is to verify that new drivers understand that dumping or abandoning an animal is a crime.

Paper Plates at Dealerships

Under Assembly Bill 516, authorized car dealerships will have to provide temporary paper license plates to each vehicle they sell. This rule applies to both new and used vehicles. The paper plate must include a number and an expiration date. Hopefully, this will reduce the number of crimes committed by vehicles without a license plate, such as passing through toll booths without paying.

Restored License Privileges for Minors

According to Assembly Bill 2685, more minors will receive timely driver’s licenses. Prior to this law, California courts could delay, restrict, or suspend the issue of a minor’s license for up to one year due to truancy or being a guardian of the state. Courts will no longer have this power. However, license delays and suspensions prior to the start of 2019 will remain valid.

Motorized Scooter Helmets

Under Assembly Bill 2989, the state will no longer require adults over the age of 18 to use a bicycle helmet when operating a motorized scooter. The law will also allow people to operate motorized scooters on highways with speed capabilities up to 35 miles per hour.

Breathalyzer Requirements for DUI Offenders

According to Senate Bill 1046, repeat DUI offenders will need to install a breathalyzer on their engine ignition for at least 12 to 48 months. First-time DUI offenders who caused injuries will be subject to this requirement as well. The law is effective between January 1st, 2019 to January 1st, 2026.

Smog Check Exemptions

Assembly Bill 1274 will extend exemptions for smog verifications on new vehicles. Exemption timeframes will increase from six years to eight years. During the first six years of exemption, new vehicle owners will not have to receive a smog check, but they will need to pay a fee of $20. During the last two years of exemption, the fee will increase to $25.