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New California Laws For Thee (and ME) in '23

New California Driving Laws For 2022

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Steer Clear From A Fine In 2022!

Make sure you are updated on the latest laws that might affect you on our California roads and highways.

By Reed Berry

Wed, Dec 29, 2021 06:14 PM PST

Obviously, this is not legal advice. We have included links to pertinent sites at the bottom of the article.

To say the last couple of years have been a bit crazy would certainly be an understatement. As we eagerly await the return of life as we once knew it, if and when that ever happens, we continue to move forward in our pandemic-centered world. Remember when we thought 2021 would be better than 2020? Perhaps we were being a bit too optimistic. But, hopefully, 2022 will produce the results we had hoped for in 2021.

Many are still nervous about getting on an airplane packed with potential Covid carriers. Not yours truly, however. I've taken trips to Florida and Northern California this year because, when it comes down to a choice between travel bargains and a virus, I'll pick a great travel bargain any day. When one major airline offered round-trip non-stop tickets from L.A. to Miami for just $72, I started packing my bags and off to South Beach I went!

But while some people are still resisting air travel, they are tossing their family and bags in the car and heading out on road trips. More vehicles on the road means greater exposure to traffic situations and, of course, potential collisions with errant drivers who still think the early pandemic open-roads speed limit of "go as fast as you can" still applies. So, it is important for the rest of us to be aware, drive safely, and obey the traffic laws that other drivers regard as mere suggestions.

As always, each year produces new laws that we must familiarize ourselves with and, of course, obey as responsible drivers. From participating in a vehicular "sideshow" to how you ride a horse on a highway, there are some interesting new laws. Law enforcement may have suspended citing drivers for basic traffic violations for a while, but that was then and this is now so, to avoid a costly traffic ticket, you may want to take note of these new laws that take effect January 1, 2022, unless otherwise indicated.

So, comply with these new laws. And get vaccinated. And wear a mask. And stay six feet away from me. Oh well, you know the drill by now.

Drive safely!

License Points For Distracted Driving (AB 47)

This is actually a law that took effect July 1, 2021, but since it is an important change, and since many people probably aren't aware of it yet, or are simply ignoring it, it's worth including a reminder. You can be cited and fined (the first ticket is in the $150 to $200 range) for using a hand-held cell phone while driving.

Now, if you violate that law a second time within 36 months of a prior conviction for the same offense, a violation point is added to your driving record.

This applies to either talking or texting while driving (except for hands-free use, which is permitted by law) but it applies to ANY use of these devices by drivers under the age of 18.

Sideshow Definiting and Penalties (AB 3)

Not sure why they are waiting so long to put this into effect but, starting July 1, 2025, courts will be able to suspend a person's driver license from 90 days to six months if they are convicted of exhibition of speed and if the violation occurred as part of a “sideshow”.

A sideshow is defined, per section 23109(c) of the California Vehicle Code, as an event in which two or more persons block or impede traffic on a highway for the purpose of performing motor vehicle stunts, motor vehicle speed contests, motor vehicle exhibitions of speed, or reckless driving for spectators.

And, while I don't necessarily agree with this part, courts will be required under this new law to consider the person's medical, personal, or family hardship that requires them to have a driver license prior to making the decision to suspend it.

Tribal Emergency Vehicles (AB 798)

Any vehicle owned or operated by a federally recognized Indian tribe is considered an authorized emergency vehicle (Section 165 CVC) when responding to an emergency, fire, ambulance, or lifesaving calls.

This new law has to do with the fact that Indian tribes are sovereign and self-governing and, therefore, their vehicles shouldn't have to undergo the CHP's lengthy approval process required for privately operated emergency vehicles.

Equestrian Safety Gear (AB 974)

Persons under the age of 18 are now required to wear a properly fitted and fastened helmet when riding a horse, mule, or donkey on a paved highway. All riders are required to wear reflective gear or a lamp when riding after sundown.

A person riding an equestrian animal in a parade or festival, or crossing a paved highway from an unpaved highway, is exempt from the helmet, lighting and reflective gear requirements.

Honestly, if I find myself riding a donkey down the highway, I'm going to start rethinking my life choices.

Class C Drivers Allowed To Tow Trailer (SB 287)

Effective January 1, 2027, drivers with a class C driver’s license (that's the standard driver license most of us have) may operate a vehicle towing a trailer between 10,001 pounds and 15,000 pounds gross vehicle weight rating, or gross vehicle weight with a fifth-wheel and kingpin or bed mounted gooseneck connection, provided that the trailer is used exclusively for recreational purposes for the transportation of property, living space, or both.

The driver will be required to pass a specialized written examination demonstrating the knowledge of the CVC and other safety aspects relating to the towing of recreational vehicles on the highway and possess an endorsement on their class C driver’s license.

Currently, this exemption is in place for drivers towing a fifth-wheel travel trailer provided the driver passes a specialized written exam and obtains a recreational trailer endorsement.

More Information

For more information on driving laws in California check out the DMV's website and the CHP website.

Again, this is NOT legal advice. Check out the included links and make sure to do your own homework. Also, be safe on our roads!

About The Author

Reed Berry's profile picture

Reed Berry

Known professionally as "The Traffic Guy," Reed Berry has been a driver safety educator for over 30 years. Reed has conducted traffic school classes and suspended license workshops throughout California, and has served as keynote speaker at safety conferences and corporate events across America. He has appeared on radio and television programs both in the U.S. and internationally to discuss safety-related issues. A contributor to LA Car since 2003, Reed Berry is a member of Motor Press Guild, the Los Angeles Press Club and SAG-AFTRA.

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