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Ringing in the New Year With New California Laws

Happy New Year!

California will ring in the New Year with several new laws or changes to existing laws that go into effect in 2014.

Teen driver restrictions: Anyone under 18 years of age can no longer use hands-free technology to send or receive text messages while driving. Texting the old-fashioned way was outlawed in 2009. (SB 194, Galgiani)

Bicycles: Passing Distance, known as the Three Feet for Safety Act, will require a motor vehicle driver passing a bicycle that is proceeding in the same direction to pass with no less than 3 feet between any part of the vehicle and any part of the bicycle or driver. When three feet is not possible, the motor vehicle must slow to a reasonable and prudent speed and only pass when no danger is present to the bicyclist. Failing to do so can incur a fine, regardless of a collision or not. This law will take effect Sept. 16, 2014. (AB 1371, Bradford)

Amber Alert Expansion: Abductions by custodial parents or guardians, who may cause serious bodily injury or death to the child, now will require law enforcement to request the activation of an AMBER Alert. (AB 535, Quirk)

Finding Hit and Run Drivers: A new bill extends the current three-year statute of limitations for hit-and-run offenses to six years from the date of a crash that causes death or permanent, serious injuries.(AB 184, Gatto)

Hybrids riding HOV: Low-emission or zero-emission vehicles can continue using high-occupancy vehicle, or carpool, lanes without meeting occupancy requirements until Jan. 1, 2019.(AB 266 / SB 286, Yee / Blumenfield)

Emergency exits for charter bus carriers and limousines: By January 1st, 2016, every limousine that has been modified or extended to accommodate additional passengers shall have two rear doors and one or two internally removable rear emergency windows. If such modifications occurred on or after July of 2015, these requirements apply immediately after July 1st, 2015. All new limousines manufactured after January 1st, 2015 must meet these requirements as well. (SB 109, Corbett)

Registration Fees increased: This law authorizes counties to increase registration fees by $1 for passenger vehicles and $2 for commercial vehicles to fund programs related to vehicle theft crimes in those counties. (AB 767, Levine)

Registration and Vehicle Transfers Between Family Members. Prohibits the transfer of ownership of a vehicle to a relative or a revocable living trust until all parking or toll-violation fines and penalties reported to the DMV are paid by the transferee. (AB 443)

Remodeling Home May Mean Upgrading Plumbing. Any home owner who adds square footage or a permanent upgrade to a kitchen or bathroom must upgrade all of the faucets and fixtures in a home over 20 years old. The law was initially passed in 2009 but has not gone into effect until now (AB 715)

For complete information on chaptered bills enacted in 2013, please refer to the Legislative Counsel website at

Carrie Van Beurden