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The CHP is alerting drivers to new laws that take effect on Tuesday — the first day of 2013:

Driving under the influence (AB 2020):  Takes away the option of  a person arrested on driving under the influence of drugs to submit to a urine test.  A suspect previously could take either urine or blood test to determine the drug content of their blood.

 –Charter-party carriers of passengers, alcoholic beverages, open containers (AB 45 by Assemblyman Wes Chesbro, D-Arcata): Prohibits underage drinking in charter-party carriers (limos, buses, etc.) and makes the company and driver responsible for letting passengers know.  The new law-to-be also requires that a person  at least 25 years old be designated and present whenever passengers younger than 21 are on board and alcohol is being transported and that the person be responsible for ensuring the law is followed and for the safety of the underage passengers.

Electronic wireless communications (AB 1536): Allows drivers to use hands-free technology to talk and text while driving.  This requires the use of a device specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation to dictate, send or listen to a text-based communication.

Financial Responsibility and Insurance (AB 1708): Drivers have option of providing proof of insurance and registration on an electronic device (smartphone, tablet, etc.), when requested by police.

Autonomous vehicles (SB 1298): Allows driverless cars to be operated on public roads for testing purposes, provided each one has a fully licensed and bonded operator in the driver’s seat to take control if necessary. The bill also instructs the DMV to adopt regulations that govern the licensing, bonding, testing and operation of autonomous vehicle technology.

Emergency services for seniors (SB 1047):  Similar to an AMBER Alert, the CHP would activate a “Silver Alert” upon request if a person, age 65 or older, is reported missing to a law enforcement agency and that agency determines certain criteria is met, including  the person is missing under unexplained or suspicious circumstances, police believe the person is in danger because of age, health, mental or physical disability, environment or weather conditions, the person is in the company of a potentially dangerous person or other factors indicating the person may be in peril.

Driver License (AB 2189): Allows a driver’s license applicant who provides satisfactory proof that his or her presence in the United States is authorized under federal law, but who is not eligible for a Social Security account number, is eligible to receive an original driver’s license if he or she meets all other qualifications for licensure.

Automated traffic enforcement systems (SB 1303): Sets consistency in operations of red-light enforcement cameras throughout the state by requiring agencies to follow specified guidelines regarding intersections, signage and the notice to appear.

–License plates obstruction or alteration (AB 2489): Prevents altering and positioning of license plates from original markings and clarifies the penalty imposed for obscuring the readability of license plates.

Child passenger restraints (AB 1452l): Hospitals, clinics, and birthing centers will be required to provide and discuss contact information regarding child safety seat requirements, installation and inspection to parents and caregivers upon discharge of a child, if the child is less than 8 years old.

Recreational off-highway vehicles.  AB 1595 defines an off-highway motor vehicle to include a recreational off-highway vehicle (ROV) and establishes additional requirements governing its safe operation. AB 1266, which goes into effect July 1,prohibits a passenger in an ROV from riding in a seat location not designed and provided by the manufacturer and prohibits operation of the ROV if the passenger is not seated with both feet on the floorboard and able to grab the occupant handhold with the seat belt and shoulder belt or safety harness fastened.

–Inflatable restraint systems (AB 1854): Makes it illegal for a person to knowingly distribute or sell a previously deployed air bag or component that will no longer meet the original equipment form, function or proper operation.

To read the full bills, go to the Legislative Counsel website by CLICKING HERE. Type in the bill number and change the session year to 2011-2012.

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