(LOS ANGELES, Dec. 29, 2009) -- New laws taking effect on or after Jan. 1 will require DUI offenders in selected counties to use an ignition interlock device, increase vehicle and driver license fees to trim the budget shortfall and require vehicle storage lots to accept bank credit or debit cards and cash to pay for storage fees, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California. During 2009, the California state legislature approved a number of new laws of interest to Auto Club members and motorists.
AB 91 authorizes the DMV to create a pilot project requiring all convicted DUI offenders in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Tulare counties to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on every vehicle they own or operate as a condition of getting their driver’s licenses back. The amount of time the IID needs to remain installed is based upon the number of DUI convictions. An evaluation will be conducted to determine if the IID pilots are effective at reducing DUIs. The Auto Club supported this measure. It will become effective on July 1, 2010.
“The Auto Club supported this law because we believe use of ignition interlock devices have the potential to help reduce DUI offenses and the data from this pilot program should provide sufficient data to either prove or disprove that potential,” said Alice Bisno, senior vice president for public affairs.
Assembly Bill (AB) 62 permits a person to drive a motor vehicle with a video screen that is displaying a TV or video signal, located in the vehicle’s front-seat area, as long as the video screen is designed, operated, and configured in a manner that prevents the driver of the vehicle from viewing the show or video.
Another new law, AB 14, authorizes cities or counties to adopt local ordinances stating that if a person is arrested for using a vehicle to commit or attempt to commit a crime of prostitution or illegal commercial dumping, that vehicle may be considered a public nuisance and impounded for up to 30 days, if the person has at least one prior conviction for either of those crimes in the previous three years. AB 14 also requires vehicle-storage facilities to accept a bank credit or debit card or cash for payment of towing, storage, and related fees. Storage-facility operators who refuse to accept a credit or debit card or cash shall be civilly liable for four times the amount of the fees, not to exceed $500.
The legislature has raised the cost of new and renewed driver’s licenses from $28 to $31. A duplicate driver’s license now costs $25, and an identification card now costs $24. Also, effective May 19, 2009, the legislature nearly doubled the effective rate of the vehicle license fee (VLF), raising it from 0.65 percent to 1.15 percent of the vehicle’s assessed value. The higher VLF rate will be in effect until July 1, 2013, unless it is extended or made permanent.
“Due to the budget crunch in Sacramento, legislators have targeted motorists in a number of new laws that increase fees,” added Bisno. “Few areas of the state were spared by either increased fees or reduced service. We hope that with an improving economy there will be less need for increased fees but a continuing state budget deficit tells us that motorists may need to brace for more.”
Senate Bill (SB) 240, which the Auto Club supported, makes permanent the Move Over law, which is intended to enhance safety around emergency vehicles or tow trucks stopped on freeways. Drivers approaching a stationary emergency vehicle or tow truck with its siren or emergency lights activated must proceed with caution and move into an available lane not immediately adjacent to the emergency vehicle or tow truck. If such a move is not safe, practicable, or legal, the driver must slow to a reasonable and prudent speed that is safe for existing conditions. Under SB 240, motorists must also move over for California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) vehicles.
“We believe this law will make roadways safer for highway workers, including emergency responders, tow drivers and construction crews,” noted Bisno.
The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest member of the AAA federation of motor clubs, has been serving Southern California since 1900. Today, the Auto Club’s members benefit by roadside assistance, insurance products and services, travel agency, financial products, automotive pricing and buying programs, automotive testing and analysis, trip planning services and highway and transportation safety programs. Information about these products and services is available on the Auto Club’s Web site at www.AAA.com.