(LOS ANGELES, Dec. 28, 2011) – The California Legislature approved new laws on booster seats, drunk driving, vehicle fees and vehicle purchases that will affect drivers and passengers in 2012, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.
Starting on Sunday, Jan. 1, young passengers aged 6 and 7 will be required to ride in a booster seat in any vehicle, unless they are at least 4 feet 9 inches tall. Previously, only child passengers who were up to age 6 or weighing less than 60 pounds were required to ride in a car seat or booster seat.
“Traffic safety research shows that children aged 4 to 7 are 59 percent less likely to be injured in a vehicle crash if they are in a car seat or booster seat than if they are wearing a seat belt,” said Alice Bisno, the Auto Club’s senior vice president for public affairs. “Adult-size seat belts do not properly protect young children because they don’t fit them correctly.”
As with the previous booster seat law, the fine for a first offense is $100 and $250 for a second offense, but penalty assessments will push the cost of that ticket to $446 for a first offense or over $1,000 for a second offense.
As of Jan. 1, AB 520 allows for a person convicted of alcohol-related reckless driving to apply for a restricted license after three months, instead of a year as currently allowed, provided they comply with specific requirements such as installing an ignition-interlock device.
Assembly Bill 353 prohibits law enforcement from impounding a vehicle at a sobriety checkpoint if the driver’s only offense is not having a valid driver’s license. Police must also make a reasonable attempt to identify the registered owner of the vehicle in order to release the vehicle to the registered owner or to a licensed driver authorized by the registered owner.
As of July 1 under AB 1215, new-car dealers are required to electronically register a new vehicle with the DMV when it is sold, and the law allows dealers to charge up to $80 for electronic document processing and up to $65 for manual processing. The law also requires used-car dealers to provide vehicle buyers with a vehicle history report from the National Motor Vehicle Title Information Service before they purchase the car, and prohibits the dealer from selling the car without obtaining the report. Sales of motorcycles, off-road vehicles and recreational vehicles are exempt.
As of July 1, 2012, vehicle registration fees will rise by $12 from $31 to $43 per year, which will be used to fund DMV operations. This fee is charged along with the Vehicle License Fee, which is based on the vehicle’s assessed value, and various other local and state fees.