December 30, 2016
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As with every new year there are new laws that take effect in California which are intended to protect us. This year, we have laws increasing the minimum wage from $10.00 per hour to $10.50 per hour, employers are no longer allowed to ask a job applicant to disclose information about an arrest or a court case if it happened while the person was under 18 years old, and there are new protections against foreclosure for widowed spouses who own their home but are not listed on the mortgage. However, below are the new 2017 traffic laws and laws pertaining to ridesharing programs in California.
Law Regarding Motorcyclists Driving Between Lanes
California added Section 21658.1 to the Vehicle Code, which allows the Department of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to create different restrictions/laws pertaining to motorcyclists who are “lane splitting” (or driving between lanes). It is expected that the CHP will regulate the speed and manner in which motorcyclists can cut other cars by riding between lanes. This has been an unregulated area up until now, and thus, it is expected to affect the thousands of motorcyclists that ride regularly around California.
Law Regarding Children in Car Seats
California also added Section 27360 to the Vehicle Code. This new Section 27360, effective January 1, 2017 requires that children younger than 2 years old, who also weigh less than 40 pounds and are shorter than 40 inches, sit in a car seat that is rear-facing. This is intended to reduce the severity of injuries in case of an accident. Importantly, however, the new law does not apply to a driver if the parent or legal guardian of the child is a passenger in the vehicle.
Law Affecting Driving and Texting / Facebooking / Twittering / Playing Pokemon Go
Since 2014, it has been illegal to talk on a cell phone and drive. However, the restrictions against using a cell phone and driving were broadened as a result of the new Section 23123.5 to the Vehicle Code. Section 23123.5 now prohibits doing just about anything on a cell phone while driving, including tweeting, updating your Facebook status, entering an address into Google Maps and playing games such as Pokemon Go. Note that Uber and Lyft drivers are similarly banned from inputing an address on a navigation app if not parked.
Laws Concerning Uber, Lyft and Other Ridesharing Applications
Ridesharing programs such and Uber and Lyft are known under California law as “transportation network companies”. Section 5445.2 has been added to the Public Utilities Code, which requires ridehsaring companies to conduct a complete background check for its drivers, and reject any driver who was ever convicted of a violent felony, terrorism-related offense, or is a registered sex offender. The law also requires that ridesharing programs reject drivers who were convicted of a misdemeanor assault or batter, domestic violence offense, or a DUI, within the past 7 years. Violation of this new law is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $1,000 and not more than $5,000, by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than 3 months, or by both that fine and imprisonment.
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