New Laws For 2014 Will Impact Drivers

Broken parking meter
Photo courtesy of Daniel Lobo/Flickr Creative Commons 

In 2013, the California Legislature approved a number of new laws of interest to Auto Club members and motorists. Unless otherwise noted, these measures take effect January 1, 2014.

Broken Parking Meters
AB 61 allows motorists to park where there are non-working parking meters or payment stations, up to the posted time limit, without getting a ticket from the local city or county. This bill follows an Auto Club–sponsored measure from last year that required cities and counties to post clear notice if parking at broken meters was prohibited.

Mobile Devices
SB 194 prohibits drivers under age 18 from using any mobile electronic communication device, even hands-free, while driving. The only exception is for an emergency call to law enforcement or other emergency service providers. The Auto Club supported this law to help ensure that new teen drivers focus on the task of driving when behind the wheel.

Driver’s Licenses
Beginning January 1, 2015, AB 60 requires the DMV to issue driver’s licenses to persons who are ineligible for a Social Security number if additional documentation regarding identity and residence is provided. A driver’s license issued under these circumstances will include a notice that it is not accepted for official federal identification (such as at airport security) or other purposes.

Vehicle Fees
AB 8 continues, through 2023, several fees that vehicle owners now pay at the time they register their vehicles. These include $3 for alternative fuel development and deployment, $8 for smog abatement (charged on vehicles six years old or newer), and $2 for local air quality districts to mitigate emissions (mainly from large trucks).

HOV Lanes
AB 266 and SB 286 combine to extend the time certain clean-air vehicles are allowed to use High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV), or carpool, lanes without meeting minimum occupancy requirements. Electric and natural gas vehicles (such as the Leaf, Tesla, and Civic CONG) with a “white sticker” or advanced partial zero-emission vehicles (such as the Volt and plug-in hybrids) with a “green sticker” from the DMV can use HOV lanes until January 1, 2019. The bills do not apply to the new Los Angeles Express Lanes on interstates 10 and 110.

Bicycle Passing
AB 1371 establishes the “Three Feet for Safety Act,” which requires drivers to allow at least a 3-foot distance between their vehicle and a bicycle or its operator when passing. When 3 feet cannot be provided because of traffic or roadway conditions, drivers must slow to a reasonable and prudent speed and pass only when doing so would not endanger the safety of the bicyclist. Penalties for violating the law start at $35 for the base fine (more than $150 when court and other fees are added). The bottom line: For everyone’s safety, pay attention and give cyclists adequate space when passing. The Auto Club supported this measure, and it takes effect on Sept. 16, 2014.