New Traffic Safety Laws in California: What You Need to Know

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – The California Highway Patrol (CHP) has recently launched a campaign to educate the public on new traffic safety laws that came into effect on January 1. These laws, signed into legislation by Governor Gavin Newsom, aim to enhance road safety across the state.

One significant change introduced by the new laws is related to vehicle registration. Under AB 256 (Dixon), starting from July 1, 2024, until January 1, 2030, a registration violation alone will not be grounds for enforcement action until the third month after expiration. However, if a vehicle is stopped for another violation, enforcement action for registration violation may be taken sooner. Late registration fees will still apply.

Another law, AB 925, requires peace officers and traffic enforcement officials to verify the lack of current vehicle registration with the Department of Motor Vehicles before towing a vehicle that has expired registration for longer than six months. If these officials do not have immediate access to records, they are prohibited from towing the vehicle.

In an effort to enhance speed safety, AB 645 (Friedman) permits the cities of Los Angeles, Oakland, San Jose, Glendale, Long Beach, and San Francisco to install a limited number of cameras for enforcing speed limits. These cameras will be used in school zones, designated “safety corridors,” and areas known for illegal street racing. Recorded violations will be subject to a civil penalty.

Another law, AB 413 (Lee), aims to increase visibility at crosswalks. It prohibits parking or stopping a vehicle along a curb at least 20 feet from a marked crosswalk or 15 feet from a crosswalk with a curb extension present. Different distances may be established by local jurisdictions through ordinances.

In an effort to reduce traffic congestion, AB 436 (Alvarez) removes city and county authority to regulate cruising through local ordinances. Additionally, it legalizes the use of “lowrider” vehicles in California by removing the height restriction on lowered vehicles.

Further regulations have been put in place for automobile dismantlers. AB 641 (Fong) redefines an automobile dismantler to include individuals possessing nine or more catalytic converters. Penalties will be imposed on individuals illegally acting as automobile dismantlers, while those with a legitimate purpose, such as repair shops, will be exempt from penalties.

Additionally, AB 1519 (Bains) deems it unlawful to remove a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) marking from a catalytic converter. Possessing three or more catalytic converters with removed VIN markings is also prohibited. SB 55 (Umberg) requires motor vehicle dealers or retailers to engrave or etch the catalytic converters with the VIN before selling a new or used truck or car.

Other laws include SB 673 (Bradford), which establishes the “Ebony Alert” for reporting missing black youth under unexplained or suspicious circumstances, and AB 946 (Nguyen), which enables law enforcement agencies to distribute information about missing persons who do not meet the age criteria for AMBER and Silver Alerts through the “Endangered Missing Advisory.”

SB 68 (McGuire) allows the CHP to establish rules and regulations for commercial vehicles carrying over 500 gallons of fuel to exceed the standard 10-hour service limit during State of Emergency declarations. This exception applies specifically to vehicles transporting fuel for emergency-related activities, including fire suppression.

Lastly, SB 88 (Skinner) imposes safety requirements on drivers and their vehicles used for pupil transportation by local educational agencies for compensation. SB 775 (Padilla) authorizes the use of signage on the rear of zero-emission school buses to identify them as clean air vehicles, with size and placement guidelines provided by the CHP.

These new traffic safety laws aim to improve road safety, reduce traffic congestion, and aid in the recovery of missing persons. It is important for Californians to familiarize themselves with these laws to ensure compliance and promote safer roads across the state.