New, revamped laws usher in 2014

With the new year come new laws as well as changes to existing laws. Here's the rundown, courtesy of the CHP:
  • Search Warrants -- Chemical Tests: Effective since Sept. 20, 2013, a search warrant may be issued to draw blood from a person in a reasonable, medically approved manner, to prove that person violated misdemeanor DUI provisions when he or she refused a police officer's request to submit to, or failed to complete, a blood test.
  • AMBER Alert Expansion: Law enforcement can request AMBER Alert activation after receiving a report that a child has been abducted by anyone, including a custodial parent or guardian, who may cause serious bodily injury or death to the child.
  • Limousines -- Emergency Exits: By Jan. 1st, 2016, every limousine that has been modified or extended to take on more passengers shall have two rear doors and up to two internally removable rear emergency windows. If these modifications occurred on or after July 2015, these requirements apply immediately after July 1, 2015. All new limousines built after Jan. 1st, 2015 must meet these requirements.
  • High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes: The sunset dates for low emission, zero emission vehicles to operate in high occupancy vehicle lanes without meeting occupancy requirements have been extended to Jan. 1, 2019.
  • Hit and Run Statute of Limitations: The statute of limitations for hit-and-run collisions that caused injury or death has been extended. A criminal complaint may be filed within three years of the offense or one year after the person was initially identified by law enforcement as a suspect in the commission of the crime, whichever comes later; however, no case can be brought more than six years after the offense.
  • Registration Fees for Vehicle Theft: Counties may raise vehicle registration fees by $1 for passenger vehicles and $2 for commercial vehicles to fund programs related to vehicle theft crimes.
  • Teen Drivers: Drivers under age 18 are prohibited from using an electronic wireless communications device to write, send, or read text-based communication while behind the wheel, even if a hands-free device is available.
  • Bicycles -- Passing Distance: Starting Sept. 16, Motorists must allow three between them and the bicyclist they are attempted to pass. Whenever three feet is not possible, the driver must slow to a reasonable and prudent speed, and only pass when no danger is present to the bicyclist. A ticket and fine may result, whether or not a collision occurred.
Read up on bills enacted in 2013 on the Legislative Counsel website, www.LegInfo.ca.gov.
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