New traffic laws usher in 2013

Several new traffic laws will be added to the books Tuesday, Jan. 1. Here's a summary from the California Highway Patrol:
  • Driving Under the Influence (AB 2020) – People arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs can no longer opt out of a urine test. Before this law, suspects could choose either a urine or blood test to determine the drug content of their blood.
  • Charter-Party Carriers of Passengers: Alcoholic Beverages: Open Containers (AB 45) – Underage drinking on charter-party carriers, such as buses, limos, etc, is prohibited. The carrier and drivers are responsible for notifying their passengers of this. Also, a designee age 25 years old or older must be on board whenever passengers under age 21 and alcohol are being transported. The designee will be responsible for making sure everyone follows the rules and remain safe during the trip.
  • Electronic Wireless Communications (AB 1536) – Drivers will be allowed to talk and text using hands free technology under this new law. In a voice-operated, hands free manner only, drivers can use a device capable to allowing voice-operated and hands-free operation to dictate, send and/or listen to a text-based communication.
  • Financial Responsibility and Insurance (AB 1708) – Smarts phones, tablets and other electronic devices can be used to show proof of insurance and registration when requested by law enforcement.
  • High Occupancy Toll Lanes (AB 2405) – Vehicles with a Clean Air Vehicle Sticker can use carpool lanes converted to High Occupancy Toll Lanes.
  • Autonomous Vehicles (SB 1298) – Driverless cars are allowed to be tested on public roads, as long as they have a licensed and bonded driver behind the wheel who is able to take control if necessary.
  • Emergency Services: Seniors (SB 1047) – Establishes a “Silver Alert” system, that, like the AMBER Alert system, broadcasts to the public that a person age 65 or older is missing and in peril.
  • Driver License (AB 2189) – Allows driver's license applicants to receive an original driver's license if he or she meets certain qualifications, even if the person is not eligible for a social security account number but is in the United States in accordance with federal law.
  • Automated Traffic Enforcement Systems (SB 1303) – Government agencies must follow specified guidelines regarding the operation of red light enforcement cameras.
  • License Plates: Obstruction or Alteration (AB 2489) – The altering and obscuring the readability of license plates becomes illegal and the penalty is clarified.
  • Child Passenger Restraints (AB 1452) – Hospitals, clinics, and birthing centers must now provide information about child safety seat requirements, installation and inspection to parents and caregivers upon discharge of a child under age eight.
  • Inflatable Restraint Systems (AB 1854) – Prohibits the knowing distribution or sale of previously deployed air bags or components that may no longer meet the manufacturer's original equipment specifications.
Learn more about these and other new laws from Legislative Counsel's website at
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