December 23, 2012—Sacramento, California—According to the Orange County Register, January 1 of 2013 will mark several changes to California laws impacting motorists in several areas. Drivers are urged to study the laws to ensure that they are in compliance with new regulations. Some of these new laws will impact the possibility of victims collecting damages in car accident lawsuits when they are injured by careless or negligent drivers.
Senate Bill 1388—Broken Parking Meters
Senate Bill 1388 allows drivers to park in spaces governed by broken parking meters up to the posted time limit without fines. If a driver parks in a space governed by a posted sign past the time limit, the driver can still receive a ticket; however, the driver may not be cited for failure to put money in the meter if the device is not functioning.
Senate Bill 435—Motorcycle Noise
Motorcycle owners are now prohibited from ignoring federal requirements for emissions equipment. Riders are required to display an EPA stamp that certifies their compliance with emissions rules. Motorcyclists may now be ticketed for noisy exhaust pipes if they are pulled over for other violations. However, a first-time offender may provide proof of compliance to have the ticket dismissed.
Assembly Bill 1536—Hands-Free Texting
Due to the tremendous number of accidents involving distracted drivers, California has, until now, prohibited any form of texting while driving. However, Assembly Bill 1536 will allow drivers to text if the device they are using is designed to send and receive messages via voice control. Hands-on texting is still prohibited.
Assembly Bill 1708—Electronic Proof of Insurance
California drivers are now allowed to download proof of insurance to their mobile devices in lieu of a printed card. When asked to produce proof of insurance, California law enforcement officials must accept electronic proof of insurance in place of such a card.
Assembly Bill 2405—HOT Lane Access
Assembly Bill 2405 now exempts single-occupancy vehicles from the restrictions placed on HOT lane access if the car is powered by natural gas or pure electric power train. These drivers will not have to pay tolls on High Occupancy Toll lanes after January 1 for most highways and after March 1, 2014 for Highways 10 and 110.
Assembly Bill 1534—Buy-Here-Pay-Here Dealer Labeling
Auto dealers must display, on used vehicles, labeling that indicates the reasonable market value of the car and how the dealer determined that value. Buy-here-pay-here dealers must provide consumers with information from some nationally-recognized pricing guide on the value of the vehicles they are considering.
These laws do not directly impact personal injury victims, but many future cases may hinge on whether drivers have complied with certain laws. In this regard, it is important for both drivers and personal injury attorneys to pay attention to changes in the laws and to incorporate that knowledge into their understanding of how to operate their vehicles safely on the road to prevent accidents and to protect their rights.