New vehicle fees, marijuana-impaired driving penalties and restrictions on disabled placards and parking citations are among the topics of new motorist-related laws enacted by the California Legislature in 2017, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.
Unless otherwise noted, the following laws will take effect Monday, Jan. 1, 2018:
Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) increases gas and diesel taxes and creates a new annual tax on vehicles to generate more than $50 billion during the next 10 years to repair and improve roads and transit.
Part of the bill took effect on Nov. 1, when gas and diesel taxes were increased by 12 cents and 20 cents a gallon, respectively. Starting Jan. 1, 2018, a new annual vehicle tax ranging from $25 to $175 will be charged based on vehicle values and will be paid with annual vehicle registration. Beginning on July 1, 2020, a fee of $100 will be assessed on zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), mostly electric cars. This ZEV fee applies at renewal of registration for ZEVs with a model year of 2020 or later.
Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5, a companion measure to SB 1, will appear on the June 5 primary election ballot to protect the new funding from being diverted or borrowed away from transportation.
Following voter approval of recreational marijuana use in 2016 and the legalization of recreational marijuana sales that takes effect Jan. 1, Senate Bill 65 prohibits the smoking or ingestion of marijuana, or any marijuana product, while driving or while riding as a passenger in a motor vehicle.
Another bill, Senate Bill 94 (SB 94), creates a task force to recommend ways to prevent and enforce against marijuana-impaired driving. The Auto Club is participating in the task force. SB 94 also prohibits non-medically authorized open cannabis or cannabis products in cars.
Senate Bill 611 requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to reform its procedures for issuing and renewing disabled-parking placards by requiring the DMV to perform random audits of issued placards, reducing the number of replacement placards issued to one person, and requiring permanent placard holders to renew placards every six years.
Assembly Bill 1625 reenacts a state law that generally bans local jurisdictions from prohibiting parking at inoperable parking meters or payment centers. Local jurisdictions may limit parking to four hours at parking spots if the meter is inoperable and if signs are installed notifying motorists. Another law, Assembly Bill 503, allows parking citation debt to be reduced and paid over time for very low-income individuals.
Currently, new vehicles are exempt from smog checks for the first six years unless they are sold or transferred after the fourth year. Instead of a smog check, owners pay a fee of $20 per year for vehicles that are six years old or newer. Assembly Bill 1274 extends the time period that new vehicles are exempt from smog checks to eight years, but extends and increases the fee during the seventh and eighth years to $25. These fees are used for air pollution mitigation programs. The extended smog fee starts Jan. 1, 2019.