California drivers can expect several changes to the laws on the roadways beginning in 2016. Everything from motorized skateboards, electric bicycles, and wearing headphones while driving are under scrutiny in the slew of new regulations scheduled to begin in January. Here’s a list which includes some of the of approved Senate and Assembly bills.
Driving Under the Influence: (SB 61, Hill) This law extends the existing Ignition Interlock Device (IID) pilot project to July 1, 2017 for, Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Tulare counties. The IID pilot project requires a person convicted of a DUI to install an IID for five months upon a first offense, 12 months for a second offense, 24 months for a third offense, and 36 months for a fourth or subsequent offense. The project was originally set to end on Jan. 1, 2016.
Earbuds or Headsets: (SB 491, Transportation Committee) This law, among other things, makes it unlawful to wear a headset covering, earplugs in, or earphones covering, resting on, or inserted in, both ears, while operating a motor vehicle or a bicycle. This prohibition does not apply to persons operating authorized emergency vehicles, construction equipment and refuse or waste equipment while wearing a headset or safety earplugs.
Pedal-Powered Vehicles: (SB 530, Pan) This law expands the definition of pedicab to include a four-wheeled device that is pedal-powered, has a seating capacity for eight or more passengers, cannot travel in excess of 15 miles per hour, and is being used for transporting passengers for hire. This law sets requirements related to local authorization, operator qualifications and training, financial responsibility, accident reporting, safety equipment, and inspections. The law establishes rules and standards for pedicabs that allow passengers to consume alcohol on board, if authorized by local ordinance or resolution.
Consumer Protection – Starter Interrupt Warning: (AB 265, Holden) This law requires a “buy-here-pay-here” dealer to make certain disclosures and notices to a vehicle buyer when a vehicle is sold with tracking and starter interrupt technology installed. This law also requires advance warning be given to the purchaser prior to engagement of the starter interrupt technology, if the buyer fails to make timely vehicle payments. A “buy-here-pay-here” dealer is defined as a used car dealer that assigns less than 90 percent of their conditional sales and lease contracts to third party lenders; and therefore provide direct financing to car buyers.
Electrically Motorized Skateboards: (AB 604, Olsen) This law defines “electrically motorized board,” and restricts their operation on public facilities, requires boards to be equipped with safety equipment, and authorizes cities and counties to regulate their use. It also makes it a crime to operate an electrically motorized board while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In addition, the law limits the board’s operation to individuals 16 years or older, requires operators to wear a bicycle helmet, wear safety equipment to increase visibility at night, and limits their operation to roads with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less. A conviction for violating this law is punishable by a fine of up $250.
Electric Bicycles: (AB 1096, Chiu) This law adds an entirely new definition of an electric bicycle to the California Vehicle Code. An electric bicycle is defined as a bicycle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts. The law creates three classes of electric bicycles. Manufacturers will also need to certify the electric bicycles comply with specified requirements. Electric bicycle riders will be able to use roads similar to other bicycle riders, while providing a measure of local control if safety concerns arise on specific paths or public trails.
California New Motor Voter Program: (AB 1461, Gonzalez) creates an automatic voter registration process for qualified individuals who apply for a driver license or identification card, or submit a change of address to the DMV. The law will require that DMV implement the New Motor Voter Act no later than one year after the Secretary of State certifies all of the following: the state has a statewide voter registration database that complies with the requirements of the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 (52 U.S.C. Section 20901 et seq.), the Legislature, has appropriated the funds necessary for the Secretary of State and DMV to implement and maintain the program, and the Secretary of State has adopted regulations to implement the law.