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Teal & Montgomery
Attorney who is a medical doctor
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The New Year brings new laws, especially in California. Many of California’s new laws seek to make travel – especially by car and motorcycle – safer for those on the road. Knowing the rules of the road will protect you and your loved ones from the risk of a car accident, in addition to helping you avoid expensive tickets and legal red tape.

The laws that are likely to have the most impact are:

  • Instruction Permits for Younger Motorcyclists: Anyone less than 21 years old who wants to earn an instruction permit must pass an approved motorcycle safety course. Once the driver receives the permit, he or she must hold it for six months before being eligible for a class M motorcycle driver license.
  • Permits for High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lanes: Drivers of fuel-efficient vehicles with low emissions were issued yellow stickers that allowed them to use the HOV lanes, even with a single occupant. The privilege was set to expire on January 1 of this year, but it has been extended until July 1, 2011. Similarly, drivers of vehicles that are fully electric or use compressed natural gas will be allowed to keep using their white HOV stickers until January 1, 2015.
  • Traffic Violator School: California drivers who are required to attend traffic school can now do so online and through home study. Previously, such drivers had to attend classes in person. This law will take three years to be fully implemented.
  • Motorcycle Theft Tools: It is illegal to possess, give or lend tools that can be used to start a motorcycle without the ignition key. The tools include certain hardware, ignition parts and other devices.

Other new California traffic laws take effect on July 1, 2011, or later. They include:

  • Local Traffic Ordinance Duplication: Local governments cannot enact or enforce a traffic law that is already covered by the state. This will help the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) maintain accurate records of all drivers’ traffic convictions.
  • Organ Donation Choice: The DMV driver license application will offer a clearer choice for whether the driver wishes to be part of the organ donor registry. Rather than only a “yes” box, the application will offer choices of “yes” and “no.”
  • License Revocation After Three DUIs: Beginning January 1, 2012, the court will be able to revoke the driver license of a person convicted of three DUIs. If the driver installs an ignition interlock device, he or she he may apply for license reinstatement after five years.

Understanding the new California traffic laws will help you keep yourself and your family safe. If you or a loved one has been injured by a negligent driver, however, contact a California personal injury attorney to learn your legal rights.