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New California DMV Laws in Effect for 2017


The State of California Department of Motor Vehicles welcomed the new year with many new laws, most of which took effect on January 1, 2017. Most of the new laws are intended to improve the safety of the roadways, while a couple will increase certain fees and one will please the vintage car owners.

Following is a comprehensive view of the new laws. Those that take effect later than January 1, 2017 are noted:

New Laws Regarding Safety

Use of Electronic Wireless Devices (AB 1785): It is prohibited to drive a motor vehicle while holding and operating a handheld wireless telephone or wireless communications device, unless the device is mounted on a vehicles windshield or is mounted or affixed to a vehicles dashboard or center console in a manner that does not hinder the drivers view of the road. The drivers hand may only be used for the activation or deactivation of a feature of the device with a single swipe or tap of the driver's finger, but not while holding it. Systems that are manufacturer installed and embedded in the vehicle are exempt from this law.

Child Safety Seats (AB 53): Any child who is younger than 2 years of age is required by the parent, guardian of driver of a motor vehicle, to be properly secured in an appropriate rear facing child passenger restraint system, unless the child weighs 40 pounds or more or is 40 inches or more in height.

Accident Reporting (SB 491): The minimum financial threshold for property damage that is required to the DMV when a driver is involved in a motor vehicle collision is raised from $750 to $1000.

Motorcycle Lane Splitting (AB 51): Lane splitting, also called white lining, is defined by law as driving a motorcycle between two lanes of slowed or stopped traffic. California is the only state where the procedure is legal and not discouraged. This new law authorizes the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to develop educational guidelines relating to lane splitting in a manner that would ensure the safety of motorcyclists, drivers and passengers. The law requires the CHP to consult with specified agencies that have an interest in road safety and motorcyclist behavior, in the development of these guidelines.

Vehicle Safety Recalls (AB 287): The Consumer Automotive Recall Safety (CARS) Act is enacted by this law, which requires the DMV to include a general advisory regarding vehicle recalls and needed repairs on each vehicle registration renewal notice. This law prohibits a dealer or rental company from renting or loaning a vehicle with manufacturers recall no later than 48 hours after receiving the notice, until the vehicle has been repaired. Limited exception is given to a dealer or rental car company with a fleet of 34 or fewer loaner or rental vehicles. The law authorizes the DMV to suspend or revoke a vehicle dealer's license if they violate the cars act.

Installing Counterfeit or Nonfunctional Airbags (AB 2387): Knowingly and intentionally manufacturing, importing, installing, reinstalling, distributing, or selling any device intended to replace an air bag system in any motor vehicle if the device is a counterfeit or nonfunctional air bag system, or does not meet federal safety requirements is prohibited by this law. Also, prohibited by this law is the selling, installing, or reinstalling any device that would cause a vehicles diagnostic system to fail to warn when the vehicle is equipped with a counterfeit or nonfunctional airbag or a case when there was no airbag installation. Violation of this law is a misdemeanor punishable by a $5000 fine and up to one year in county jail.

Background Checks of Drivers of Transportation Network Companies (AB 1289): A comprehensive background check of all drivers is required to be performed by a transportation network company (TNC). This law also provides specific penalties for a TNC that violates or fails to comply with this requirement. A TNC is prohibited from contracting with, employing, or retaining any driver who is registered on the U.S. Department of Justice National Sex Offender public website, has been convicted of specified felonies, or within the previous seven years, has been convicted of a misdemeanor assault or battery, domestic violence, or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Any TNC in violation of the specified requirements of this law is subject to a penalty of not less than $1,000 or more than $5,000 for each offense.

New DMV Fee Increases (Effective Dates Specified)

Vehicle Registration Fee (SB 838): This law increases the fee for registration on every vehicle or trailer coach from $43 to $53 beginning April 1, 2017.

Environmental License Plate Fee (SB 839): This law increases the fee for the issuance of Environmental License Plates from $48 to $53, effective July 1, 2017. Also, increased under this law is the fee for the renewal, retention, transfer or duplication of Environmental License Plates (personalized) from $38 to $43, starting January 1, 2017.

Good News for Vintage Car Owners and Collectors

Year of Manufacture License Plates (SB 1429): The Year of Manufacture (YOM) license plate program is expanded to include vehicles and license plates manufactured through 1980. Owners of vintage motor vehicles may now obtain license plates from the year that matches the year the vehicle was manufactured, in lieu of standard issue plates. These plates may be sourced anywhere such as online, garage sales, flea markets and swap meets. Included in the program are the blue and yellow California plates issued between 1970 and 1980.

Vititoe Law Group is a California personal injury law firm that is committed to the improved safety of our roads and highways. If you or someone you care for was injured in a motor vehicle accident, reach out to Vititoe Law Group today for a free consultation. You may be entitled to receive substantial compensation.

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