New California Vehicle Laws for 2017

Here are some new laws going into effect for 2017 in California:

Use of Electronic Wireless Devices (AB 1785, Quirk): Driving a motor vehicle while holding and operating a handheld wireless telephone or a wireless electronic communications device will be prohibited, unless the device is mounted on a vehicle’s windshield or is mounted/affixed to a vehicle’s dashboard or center console in a manner that does not hinder the driver’s view of the road. The driver’s hand may only be used to activate or deactivate a feature or function on the device with the motion of a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger, but not while holding it. The law does not apply to manufacturer-installed systems that are embedded in a vehicle.

Child Safety Seats (AB 53, Garcia): This law requires a parent, legal guardian, or the driver of a motor vehicle to properly secure a child who is younger than 2 years of age in an appropriate rear-facing child passenger restraint system, unless the child weighs 40 or more pounds or is 40 or more inches in height (3 feet, 3 inches).

Motorcycle Lane Splitting (AB 51, Quirk): This law defines “lane splitting” as driving a two-wheeled motorcycle between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane. The law authorizes the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to develop educational guidelines relating to lane splitting in a manner that would ensure the safety of motorcyclists, drivers, and passengers. In developing these guidelines, the law requires the CHP to consult with specified agencies and organizations that have an interest in road safety and motorcyclist behavior.

Vehicle Registration Fee (SB 838, Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review): This law increases the vehicle registration fee on every vehicle or trailer coach from $43 to $53 beginning April 1, 2017.

Environmental License Plate (SB 839, Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review): This law increases the fee for the issuance of Environmental License Plates from $48 to $53, starting July 1, 2017. This law also increases the fee for the renewal, retention, transfer, or duplication of Environmental License Plates (personalized) from $38 to $43, starting January 1, 2017.

Accident Reporting (SB 491, Committee on Transportation and Housing): This law increases the minimum financial threshold for property damage that is required to be reported to the DMV from $750 to $1,000 when a driver is involved in a motor vehicle collision.