Below is a list of laws that took effect with the coming of the new year, courtesy of Armando Botello of the Department of Motor Vehicles:
- Child safety seats – Children up to age eight or or 4 feet 9 inches tall or shorter should sit in a child seat or booster seat in the rear of the family vehicle. The previous law required youngsters up to age six or 60 lbs to use car seats or booster seats. The new law also states that children age eight or older who are not tall enough for the seat belt to fit properly must ride in a booster or car seat.
Adults caught driving with children not properly restrained in their vehicle will receive a ticket of more than $475 and receive a violation point on their driving record. Comparatively, low back booster seats, which boost children up to make the adult sizes seat belt fit safely around their child-sized bodies, cost $15 to $20 at major retailers. For more information, visit www.santacruzhealth.org/phealth/family/3seatsforkids.htm or call 454-5477; www.chp.ca.gov/community/safeseat.html or call 662-0511, www.cdph.ca.gov/vosp or http://www.ots.ca.gov/Child_Passenger_Safety.asp.
- High occupancy lane – Stickers will be available to drivers of plug-in hybrid vehicles who would like to use high-occupancy lanes. The sticker will be valid from Jan. 1, 2012 through Jan. 1, 2015. This joins the white stickers issued to fully-electric and compressed natural gas vehicles that are valid until Jan. 1, 2015.
- Driving under the influence – Courts can now strip motorists convicted of a third or subsequent driving under the influence offense of their driver license for 10 years. The license could be reinstated after five years if specific conditions are met.
- Armed forces – Provides the spouse of a person serving in the United States Armed Forces an extension on their driver license expiration date as long as the service member continues to serve the country and both the service member and spouse remain outside the state.
- Vehicle information – This new law July 1, 2012 and it requires all used vehicles for sale by dealers to be checked for past damage, such as flooding or severe collisions in the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System. The law prohibits dealers from offering used vehicles for sale unless the dealer first obtains the vehicle history report. If it’s discovered that a vehicle has been declared junked or salvaged, the dealer must notify and provide the report to the purchaser. This new law also allows new vehicle dealers to electronically transmit information to the DMV for faster delivery of registration documents and license plates to customers. It also clarifies that consumers must affix new license plates from the DMV to their vehicle no later than 90 days from the date of the vehicle’s sale.