New CA driving laws for 2013

SACRAMENTO – New rules that govern the California driving public will go in effect on January 1, 2013. These rules are the product of legislation passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. in 2012.

“The changes to California’s traffic safety laws are designed to protect the motoring public,” said California Highway Patrol (CHP) Commissioner Joe Farrow in a news release. “Citizens are encouraged to familiarize themselves with these new laws in advance of the new year. Adhering to the rules of the road may save your life, or the lives of your fellow motorists.”

The following are summaries of some of the new laws taking effect January 1, 2013:

Driving Under the Influence (AB 2020, Pan) The law no longer allows a person who has been arrested and is suspected of driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs, the option of a urine test. Prior to this change, a person had the option of submitting either urine or blood to determine the drug content of their blood.

Charter-Party Carriers of Passengers: Alcoholic Beverages: Open Containers (AB 45, Chesbro) This new law prohibits underage drinking in charter-party carriers (limos, buses, etc.) and makes the carrier and driver responsible for communicating this to their passengers. The law also requires a designee, who is at least 25 years of age, to be present whenever there are passengers who are under 21 years of age on board the vehicle and alcohol is being transported. The designee shall be responsible for ensuring the rules are followed, and the safety of the underage passengers throughout the duration of the trip.

Electronic Wireless Communications (AB 1536, Miller) This law allows California drivers to use hands-free technology to talk and text while driving. This will require the use of a device that is specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation to dictate, send or listen to a text-based communication. The device is required to also be used in a voice-operated, hands-free manner to be in compliance with the law.

Financial Responsibility and Insurance (AB 1708, Gatto) Drivers will now have the option of providing proof of insurance and registration on an electronic device (smartphone, tablet, etc.), when it is requested by law enforcement.

High Occupancy Toll Lanes (AB 2405, Blumenfield) This law creates the Choose Clean Cars Act, which allows cars with a Clean Air Vehicle Sticker free access to carpool lanes that are converted to High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes.

Autonomous Vehicles (SB 1298, Padilla) This new law allows driverless cars to be operated on public roads for testing purposes, provided that each vehicle has a fully licensed and bonded operator in the driver’s seat to take control if necessary. The bill also instructs the Department of Motor Vehicles to adopt regulations that govern the licensing, bonding, testing and operation of autonomous vehicle technology.

Emergency Services: Seniors (SB 1047, Alquist) Similar to an AMBER Alert, the CHP would activate a “Silver Alert” upon request if a person, age 65 or older, is reported missing to a law enforcement agency and that agency determines that certain criteria is met. The criteria includes: the person is missing under unexplained or suspicious circumstances or the law enforcement agency believes the person is in danger due to age, health, mental or physical disability, environment or weather conditions; the person is in the company of a potentially dangerous person; or there are other factors indicating that the person may be in peril. Finally, there is information available, if given to the public, may assist in the safe recovery of the missing person.

Driver License (AB 2189, Cedillo) This law allows a driver’s license applicant who provides satisfactory proof that his or her presence in the United States is authorized under federal law, but who is not eligible for a social security account number, is eligible to receive an original driver’s license if he or she meets all other qualifications for licensure.

Automated Traffic Enforcement Systems (SB 1303, Simitian) This new law establishes consistency in the operations of red-light enforcement cameras throughout the state by requiring governmental agencies to follow specified guidelines regarding intersections, signage, and the notice to appear.

License Plates: Obstruction or Alteration (AB 2489, Hall) This new law prevents the altering and positioning of license plates from its original markings and clarifies the penalty imposed for obscuring the readability of license plates.

Child Passenger Restraints (AB 1452, Hill) Hospitals, clinics, and birthing centers will now be required to provide and discuss contact information regarding child safety seat requirements, installation, and inspection to parents and caregivers upon discharge of a child, if the child is less than eight years of age.

Additional Registration Fees (AB 1404, Feuer) This law authorizes three counties (Los Angeles, San Diego and San Bernardino) to increase vehicle registration fees to help fund vehicle theft programs. Increases would be from $1 to $2 for passenger vehicles, and $2 to $4 for commercial vehicles.

Inflatable Restraint Systems (AB 1854, Brownley) This law makes it illegal for a person to knowingly distribute or sell a previously deployed air bag or component that will no longer meet the original equipment form, function or proper operation.

Two new laws related to recreational off-highway vehicles. One, (AB 1595, Cook), defines an off-highway motor vehicle to include a recreational off-highway vehicle (ROV) and establishes additional requirements governing its safe operation. The other law, (AB 1266, Cook), which goes into effect July 1, 2013, prohibits a passenger in an ROV from riding in a seat location not designed and provided by the manufacturer. It also prohibits operation of the ROV if the passenger is not seated with both feet on the floorboard and able to grab the occupant handhold with the seat belt and shoulder belt or safety harness fastened.

Driving Under the Influence: Alcoholic Beverage or Drug (AB 2552, Torres) Although this change in the law does not take effect until January 1, 2014, it distinguishes whether an individual was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Ultimately this change, singling out drugs with its own subsection in the Vehicle Code, will make it easier to track the prevalence of drugged driving in California. This new law, coupled with the efforts requiring the use of Ignition Interlock Devices, will help reduce impaired driving throughout California.

These points are only a synopsis of some of the new laws adopted. For complete information on chaptered bills enacted in 2012, visit the Legislative Counsel website at

(Information via press release from the California Highway Patrol.)

  11 comments for “New CA driving laws for 2013

  1. yvette
    December 31, 2012 at 11:32 am

    What I don’t understand is; living in a country that counts with one of the best technologies there are and they are not able to coordinate emergency calls. Every time they respond to a call at least five big red trucks plus an ambulance, which means around 20 people attending a single person, not counting the fuel wasted in those trucks. What a way to waste the money. No wonder the city is always complainting that they are broke and they don’t have money to pay for more police. Even those poor countries in Latin America have better coordination on 911 calls. What a shame all of this is!

  2. Diva
    December 19, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Fire Trucks, Police cars and emergency vehicles don’t get the respect they should be getting. When an emergency vehicle is coming toward you from the opposite direction, you don’t have to pull over if you are traveling on a street with a medium down the middle seperating traffic going in opposite directions. Why does everyone stop in the middle of the street instead of moving to the right? Why do some people speed through intersections when an emergency vehicle is clearly trying to pass through. I’d like to see some enforcement of the rules regarding this issue.

    • December 31, 2012 at 8:35 pm

      @Diva, it would make sense that traffic going in the opposite direction would not have to pull over for emergency vehicles traveling on the other side of a street with a median. But what if traffic is so bad they have to jump the median? CVC 21806 doesn’t reference which way the traffic is going but it does say “the surrounding traffic shall… yield the right of way except as otherwise directed by a traffic officer” which means, I think, traffic in ALL directions shall yield the right of way.

      Since living in the AV, seen a couple of near misses, especially at 20th/J West. Some people are in just too much a dang hurry to get nowhere.

  3. VWFish
    December 19, 2012 at 12:07 am

    i agree with all the comments here…No signals, tailgateing, speeding everywhere, 8 cars still turning left while you sit at a green light, turning in front of you and staying in your lane even though there are 2 open lanes to the left…. OH YA AND… NO RESPECT FOR COMMERCIAL VEHICLES!! I have seen MANY BONEHEADS that do not understand that a 78,000 pound 73 foot long vehicle does not stop well when you cut in front of it over 2 lanes to get off the highway or turn right…DONT WORRY my truck will have a dent on the bumper and your 4 wheeler WILL BE CRUSHED and you may be alive to regret that 2 second decision! AND My company will pay you $500,000 to make you go away AND I will lose my job and tax payers will pay my salary….


    Fish Out

  4. Angel
    December 18, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    There should be NO right TURNS ON RED !!

  5. DOOg
    December 18, 2012 at 9:32 am

    How about a law that you lose your license forever the first time you get DUI.
    Come on lets get serious!

    • Al
      December 18, 2012 at 1:02 pm

      Yes there is! However it is not enforced very much, Anywhere!

      • December 31, 2012 at 8:40 pm

        It probably wouldn’t make much difference. Do you know how many unlicensed and uninsured drivers there are in the AV alone? A lot.

  6. William
    December 17, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Is there a law on the books about using one’s turn signal before changing lanes? I thought I read that somewhere.

    • Yo Mama
      December 18, 2012 at 5:32 am

      Ha! Yeah, I’ve heard that somewhere before, too! Apparently, only high school grads have to. No diploma; no turn signals!

  7. James Stouvenel
    December 17, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    hope everyone reads all of the new laws governing our Roadways, and keeps other motorist safe by taking them seriously, have a safe and Merry Christmas everyone, and even better New Years. please do not drive drunk this holiday season or YOU will be pulled over and terminated as a drunk driver, think twice before you drink and drive or drive drowsy,

    Happy Holidays everyone!

Comments are closed.