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New Laws for California for 2019

Sacramento, CA– With the New Year just around the corner, Californians needs to be informed the about several new laws or changes to existing law that, unless otherwise noted, take effect January 1, 2019. This is a few of the hundreds that take effect.


SMOG CHECK CHANGES AND NEW ABATEMENT FEES: This law expands the existing smog check exemption to vehicles that are up to eight model years old, up from the current exemption of six model years. During the additional two years of exemption, these vehicles will pay an annual $25 smog abatement fee. The current annual $20 smog abatement fee for the first six years of exemption remains unchanged. 


DRIVING PRIVILEGE FOR MINORS: This law repeals a juvenile court’s authority to suspend, restrict or delay the issuance of a driver license of a habitual truant or ward of the state for up to one year. The law clarifies that any suspensions or delays reported prior to January 1, 2019, remain in effect.


MOTORIZED SCOOTERS: Bicycle helmets are no longer required for riders of motorized scooters who are age 18 or older. It also amends existing law to prohibit a person from operating a motorized scooter on a highway with a speed limit greater than 25 miles per hour, unless it is within a Class IV bikeway as well as a Class II bikeway. However, it permits local authorities to authorize the operation of motorized scooters on roads with speed limits up to 35 miles per hour outside of a Class II or Class IV bikeway.


UNSAFE, UNSECURED LOADS ON VEHICLES: This law requires the DMV to include at least one question addressing laws pertaining to driving with an unsafe, unsecured load in at least 20 percent of the knowledge tests administered to driver license applicants. Unsecured loads, such as ladders, buckets and loose items in the back of pickup trucks, can be dangerous for motorists when they fall onto the road. Therefore, all vehicle loads must be covered or secured.


HIGH-OCCUPANCY VEHICLE LANES: As previously announced, AB 544 created a new program to grant low-emission vehicles and transitional zero-emission vehicles access to high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes for an approximate four-year period, regardless of the vehicle occupancy level. A green or white decal is valid until January 1, 2019 and vehicles displaying these decals no longer have access to HOV lanes. Vehicles that were issued a green or white decal between January 1, 2017 and March 1, 2018 are eligible to apply for a red decal that grants them access to HOV lanes until January 1, 2022.  The DMV notified these customers of their eligibility by mail. The DMV will issue light purple decals in 2019 that will grant access to HOV lanes until January 1, 2023. 


PLATES: No vehicle can be driven off car dealership lots without a temporary license plate affixed to it unless it already has issued plates. The intent of this new law is to reduce the number of toll violators and improve safety for law enforcement.


GENDER: Individuals applying for a California driver license or identification card will be able to self-certify their chosen gender category of male, female or nonbinary in the application. Applicants who select nonbinary will receive a card with an “X” in the gender category.


DUI: Through Jan. 1, 2026, requires repeat DUI offenders and first DUI offenders whose violations resulted in injury to install an ignition interlock device for a period ranging from 12 to 48 months. This law also allows those who receive a suspension under the Administrative Per Se law to obtain driving privilege with the ignition lock, and receive credit toward their required ignition lock restriction period if they are later convicted of a DUI. Does not apply to drug-only related violations.


SMOG:  Expands existing smog check exemption from vehicles six model years old, up to eight model years old. Exempted vehicles will pay an annual $25 smog abatement fee in the two new additional years, higher than the current annual $20 fee for the first six years of exemption.


MINORS: Juvenile courts will no longer be able to suspend, restrict or delay drivers licenses of a habitual truant or ward of the state.


HELMETS: Persons under age 18 not wearing a helmet on a bicycle, scooter, skateboard or skates will receive “fix-it” tickets.


CARGO: DMV will include at least one question addressing laws pertaining to driving with an unsafe, unsecured load in at least 20 percent of driver license tests. All vehicle loads must be covered or secured.


HOV: Green and white decals for low- or zero-emission vehicle access to high-occupancy vehicle lanes, regardless of passenger load, expire Jan. 1.


HIT AND RUN: Felony hit-and-run laws on the roadways will expand to include cyclists on bike paths, as well. As with drivers, cyclists involved in a collision resulting in death or injury to another party is required to stop at the scene.


NOISE: A fine will become mandatory, not correctable, when loud motor vehicles and motorcycles are cited for modified or excessively loud exhaust or
muffler systems.


SAFETY: When approaching or overtaking a refuse collection vehicle with its amber lights flashing, drivers must move into an adjacent lane, if possible,
and pass at a safe distance. If not possible, drivers must slow to a safe and reasonable speed.



On January 1, 2019, the minimum wage increased to $12 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees and $11 per hour for employees with 25 or fewer employees. 



California became the first state in the nation to limit the use of plastic straws in restaurants. Signed into law on Sept. 20, Assembly Bill 1884 prevents California restaurants from providing plastic straws unless they are asked for by customers.



Supporters say Senate Bill 700 would authorize more than $800 in incentives and result in the installation of 3,000 megawatts of energy storage, helping to jump-start a growing industry.



Senate Bill 1192 reiterates the importance of a balanced diet and seeks to target childhood obesity by eliminating sugary drinks, such as juice and soda as the primary choice on the kids’ menu. Instead, the bill seeks to make water and milk the default drinks.



Consumers worried about increasingly expensive internet bills have reason to rejoice as the legislature passes Senate Bill 822. Signed into law on Sept. 30, the bill will prevent providers like AT&T and Comcast from blocking, slowing down or increasing fees for websites that require higher bandwidth, like video streams.



Supporters think California’s training standards for police officers are due for an update. With the passage of Assembly Bill 2504, the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training will add a course on sexual orientation and gender identity minority groups in the state to its basic training for officers and dispatchers.



Assembly Bill 2495 specifies that a city or county government cannot charge a person for the costs of investigation, prosecution, or appeal in a criminal case.


Senate Bill 100 requires California to get 60% of its electricity from renewable resources sources like solar and wind by 2030, and 100% from climate-friendly resources by 2045. The bill could boost the development of solar, wind and geothermal power plants in the desert.


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