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Rules of the Road 2013: Self-Driving Cars, Hands-Free Texting and More

Several laws and amendments passed by the California State Legislature will go into effect on Jan. 1 and could affect many California drivers.

The new year is almost here and with it comes the resolution, a promise to change the way we've done things in the past.

The state of California has made several resolutions herself and we've decided to focus on the ones that affect drivers.

Below is a list of new laws or changes to existing laws that will go into effect on Tuesday and will likely affect you as a California driver.   

  • Passenger Charter-party Carriers’ Act, AB 45: Any driver of a chartered limo or bus will be required to make sure that passengers are of the legal drinking age when alcohol is being consumed in their vehicle. If a minor is found to have been drinking alcohol during the ride, the driver is required to return that passenger to where they were picked up.  
  • CHP Silver Alerts, SB 1047: The California Highway Patrol will implement a "silver alert" into its emergency alert system to allow it to assist in searches for missing people over the age of 65. 

How will these laws affect you? Tell us in the comments section below.

  • Autonomous Vehicles, SB 1298: The law will allow for self-driving cars to be test-driven on public roads while a licensed driver is in the driver's seat. The driver will be able to take over immediate manual control in the event of vehicle failure or some other emergency.
  • Used Car Dealer Practices, AB 1534, AB 1447: Under AB 1534, used car dealers that provide direct financing to buyers must label their cars with specific information about them, including reasonable market value and the source of the information. AB 1447 will require these dealers provide a vehicle warranty, limit them from tracking customer vehicles with GPS devices and prevent them from being able to electronically disable a vehicle without signed consent from the buyer at the time of purchase.
  • Hands-Free Text and Driving, AB 1536: The law will allow a person to send and receive text messages while driving if they are doing so using a phone's hands-free, voice-operated functions.   
  • Veteran License Plates, AB 1550: Veterans will be able to apply for specialized plates designating them as participants of specific wars or conflicts with the use of new decals. Old decals will be phased out depending on demand and cost of production.
  • California Legacy Plates, AB 1658: Drivers whose cars are registered in California will be able to opt for specialized license plates that look similar to plates used in the state in past years.
  • Traffic Violator School, AB 1888: The law will allow a driver with a commercial license who has committed a traffic offense to attend traffic violator school, thus preventing them from getting a point on their license.
  • Driving Under the Influence, AB 2020: A person arrested for suspected DUI will no longer be given the option of a urine test. In previous years, the option was given of either a urine test or a blood test.
  • Choose Clean Cars Act, AB 2405: Vehicles that meet California's super ultra-low emissions standards may qualify for stickers which will allow for single-driver travel in high-occupancy vehicle lanes. 
  • Vessel Registration Fees, AB 2443: The registration fee for boat owners will increase to support the monitoring and infestation prevention of dreissenid mussels, which attach to the bottoms of boats.
LeAna Bui January 01, 2013 at 11:34 PM
Allowing hands-free texting is a bad idea.
Charles January 01, 2013 at 11:51 PM
It may be cheaper to accept a whopping $20 ticket and not upgrade to a hands free texting device. From AB 1536: "(d) A violation of this section is an infraction punishable by a base fine of twenty dollars ($20) for a first offense" Perhaps, instead of a $20 fine, the perp should be forced to write "I will not text and drive" 100 times on a chalk board.

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