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Latest California DMV Rules

Effective January 1, 2023

Enhanced Safeguards for Bicycle Riders (AB 1909, Friedman)

Current California law requires vehicles to maintain three feet of space when passing bicyclists headed in the same direction. A new law will now require vehicles to move into another lane "with due regard for safety and traffic conditions, if practicable and not prohibited by law, before overtaking or passing the bicycle." If a lane change is not safe or legal, a driver of a motor vehicle must still maintain at least three feet of space when passing. If a three foot space or lane change is not possible, then slow down and pass only when doing so would not endanger the safety of the operator of the bicycle.

This new law also permits riders of Class 3 e-bikes to use approved bicycle paths and trails, bikeways, and bicycle lanes.

Bicycle Rider

Sideshows at Parking Facilities (AB 2000, Gabriel)

The state legislature has expanded the existing sideshow and street racing law (CVC 23109) to now include parking lots in addition to banning illegal sideshow and street racing activities on public streets.

Legalizing Jaywalking (AB 2147, Ting)

A new law called "The Freedom To Walk Act" will allow Californians to jaywalk or cross outside of an intersection without being ticketed. This new law specifies an officer can only stop and cite a pedestrian for jaywalking when "a reasonably careful person would realize there is an immediate danger of a collision." While this new law mainly discusses citations, nothing in this law eliminates the pertinent rules of the road related to both pedestrians and motorists continuing to lawfully yield the right-of-way to one another.

Effective January 1, 2022

"Sideshow" Law (AB 3)

This new law defines a "sideshow" in California and outlines penalties for a related offense. California Vehicle Code will define "sideshow" 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." As for penalties, courts will be permitted to suspend a driver's license between 90 days and six months. That part of the law is effective July 1, 2025.

Safety Gear for Equestrian Animal Riders (AB 974)

Anyone under 18 years old who rides an equestrian animal, such as a horse, mule or donkey, on a paved highway must now wear a "properly fitted and fastened helmet." The legislation is intended to enforce the same requirements for youths who ride bikes, non-motorized scooters, skateboards, in-line and roller skates. The new law also requires a person of any age to wear reflective gear or a lamp while riding equestrian animals after dark on paved highways. Fines for first-time violators are $25 per infraction. However, anyone using an equestrian animal in a parade or festival is exempt from the helmet and gear provisions, according to the legislation.

Effective January 1, 2021

Points for Distracted Driving (AB 47, Daly)

Current vehicle code prohibits a person from driving a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone in a handheld manner and the offense is already punishable by a fine. For violations occurring on or after July 1, 2021, a point will also be added to a driving record for each hands-free cell phone violation occurring within 36 months of a prior hands-free conviction.

Approaching Stationary Emergency Vehicles (AB 2285)

Existing "Move Over, Slow Down" Law, requiring drivers to move over or slow down for road maintenance crews and emergency personnel on freeways, will now be extended to include highways, local streets and roadways. In essence, this law states that when a driver approaches a stationary emergency vehicle displaying emergency lights, including tow trucks and Caltrans vehicles, they must move to another lane when possible, or slow to a reasonable speed.

Unattended Children (AB 2717, Chau)

CVC 15620 (also known as "Kaitlyn's Law") states that you may not leave a child that is six years of age or younger unattended in a motor vehicle if there are conditions that present a risk. The Civil Code and Health and Safety Code have been updated to exempt a person from civil or criminal liability for trespassing or damaging a vehicle when rescuing a child who is six years old or younger and who is in immediate danger from heat, cold, lack of ventilation, or other dangerous circumstances.

Effective September 29, 2020

Evacuation Siren (CVC 27002)

Law enforcement agencies, upon obtaining a permit from the California Highway Patrol (CHP), may use a distinctive audible "Hi-Lo" warning siren to notify the public of an immediate need to evacuate an area in an emergency. This distinct warning sound has already been proven effective and will help save lives as California deals with the ongoing threat of wildfire.

Effective January 1, 2020

Suspending a License for Various Crimes (SB 485, Beall)

A new law repeals a court's authority to suspend, revoke, restrict or delay a driver's license for non-vehicle related crimes. The California state legislature has determined that suspending a person's license does not necessarily prevent them from committing various crimes, such as prostitution, vandalism, and various drug offenses. Instead, such suspensions of a person's driving privilege may prevent their ability to care for their children, maintain employment and pay restitution.

Law Enforcement Traffic Stop Info Included in California Driver Handbook (AB 2918, Holden)

This new law requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to include information in the California Driver Handbook regarding a person's civil rights during a traffic stop by law enforcement. You may view this information in the California Driver Handbook or online at dmv.ca.gov.

Passengers Prohibited from Consuming Cannabis (AB 1810)

Passengers in a bus, limousine, taxi, housecar or camper are prohibited from ingesting or consuming cannabis; however, passengers in any of these vehicles will still be able to drink alcohol.

Effective January 1, 2019

Passing Waste Service Vehicles (CVC 21761)

When approaching or overtaking a refuse collection vehicle with its amber lights flashing, drivers must move into an adjacent lane, if possible, and pass at a safe distance. If it is not possible, drivers must slow to a safe and reasonable speed. This new law provides a safety margin for sanitation workers while they are actively working.

Driving Privilege for Minors (AB 2685, Lackey)

The court's authority to suspend, restrict or delay the issuance of a driver license of a minor who is a habitual truant for one year has been repealed. However, any court order issued before January 1, 2019, will remain in full effect.

Bicycle Helmets (AB 3077, Caballero)

Persons under age 18 not wearing a helmet on a bicycle, scooter, skateboard, or skates will receive a "fix-it" ticket. A citation is considered non-punitive and correctable if proof that the minor has completed a bicycle safety course and has a helmet that meets safety standards is presented within 120 days to the issuing law enforcement agency. A violation of the law is punishable by a fine of up to $25.

Gender Identity Female, Male, or Non-Binary (SB 179, Atkins)

A third gender option is available for California driver's licenses and IDs. This law allows individuals applying for a California driver license or identification card to self-certify their chosen gender category of male, female or non-binary in the application. Applicants who select non-binary will receive a card with an "X" in the gender category.

Unsafe, Unsecured Loads on Vehicles (CVC 1666.7)

This new law requires the DMV to include at least one question addressing laws pertaining to driving with an unsafe, unsecured load in at least 20 percent of the knowledge tests administered to driver license applicants. Unsecured loads, such as ladders, buckets and loose items in the back of pickup trucks, can be dangerous for motorists when they fall onto the road. Therefore, all vehicle loads must be covered or secured.

DUI - Ignition Interlock Devices (SB 1046, Hill)

Starting January 1, 2019 to January 1, 2026, a new law mandates repeat offenders for driving under the influence (DUI) and first DUI offenders whose violations resulted in injury, to install an ignition interlock device (IID) for a period ranging from 12 to 48 months. Also, courts have the discretion to order a non-injury first DUI offender to install an IID for a period of up to 6 months.

Effective January 1, 2018

Cannabis Use in Vehicles

Although recreational cannabis sales and the use of marijuana for adults 21 years of age and over is now legal in California with the passage of Proposition 64, driving while under its influence remains illegal. As of January 1st, 2018, various vehicle codes have been updated to clarify that the law prohibits the use of marijuana while driving or riding as a passenger in a vehicle as well as transporting open containers of cannabis products.

Additionally, the DMV has been tasked with updating its website, the California Driver Handbook and Motorcycle Handbook with information pertaining specifically to marijuana violations.

Increased Registration Fees

The DMV will require motorists, at the time of their vehicle's registration or renewal, to pay an additional fee based on their vehicle's current value. This "Transportation Improvement Fee" (TIF) will range from $25 - $175. The revenue will help fund transportation improvement projects at state, county and local levels.

Pedestrian Crossing Signals (CVC 21456)

This law change clarifies that pedestrians can start crossing through an intersection when a traffic signal displays a flashing "Don't Walk" or "Upraised Hand" symbol so long as the signal shows a countdown timer and the pedestrian can finish crossing safely before the countdown timer ends. This modification to the law simply aims to clarify when a pedestrian may safely enter a crosswalk with pedestrian signals.

Beginning July 1, 2018

Seatbelts and Buses

Drivers and passengers on a bus must be properly restrained with seat belts if they are provided on the vehicle. Additionally, the driver has to ensure the safety devices are working and must inform passengers of the legal requirement to wear their seat belt. This new law is intended for tour and charter buses and excludes school and transit buses.

DUI - Passenger for Hire

It will be unlawful for a person to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04 percent or more when a passenger for hire is in the vehicle at the time of the offense. This will mean Uber and Lyft drivers will be held to a higher standard of safety while transporting people which will coincide with the current BAC limit of 0.04 percent for commercial license holders. The DMV will suspend a person's driver license if a conviction is added to their record.

Effective January 1, 2017

Child Safety Seat Requirements (CVC 27360)

The existing child passenger restraint system laws required a parent, legal guardian, or driver who transports a child under eight (8) years of age on a highway in a motor vehicle, to properly secure that child in a rear seat in an appropriate child passenger restraint system. This law has been expanded to require any child who is under two (2) years of age to also be secured in a rear-facing child passenger restraint system unless the child is 40 pounds or more, or is 40 or more inches tall.

Reporting a Collison (CVC 16000)

The minimum damage threshold for reporting a collision to the DMV will increase from $750 to $1,000.

Use of Electronic Wireless Devices (Revision to CVC 23123.5)

Drivers are no longer able to hold and operate a handheld wireless telephone or a wireless electronic communications device while driving. This law prohibits drivers from "holding and operating" their devices for any reason, including texting, making calls, browsing the internet, using navigation, playing music, etc. The only way drivers can use an electronic device legally while driving is if:

  1. The handheld wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device is mounted on a vehicle's windshield in a seven-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield farthest removed from the driver or in a five-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield nearest to the driver and outside of an airbag deployment zone; or is mounted on or affixed to a vehicle's dashboard or center console in a manner that does not hinder the driver's view of the road.
  2. The driver only uses a single swipe or finger tap when activating or deactivating a feature on the mounted device.

The law does not apply to manufacturer-installed systems that are embedded in a vehicle.

Remember, if you're under 18 years of age, you cannot drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone or an electronic wireless communications device, even if the device is hands-free. (CVC 3124)

Effective July 1, 2016

CA Residency Requirement (CVC 12801.5)

For New Driver License (DL) and Identification Card (ID) Applicants

Quick Recap: In addition to all of the previous documents required by the California DMV when applying for a permit, new drivers need to establish "Proof of California Residency" as well.

When applying for a learner permit, a minor's parent or guardian will need to bring 2 different residency documents to the DMV. Examples of valid residency documents include utility bills, cell phone bills, medical bills, insurance documents, tax documents, etc. The address on the residency documents must match the residency address on the new driver's license application.

For more detailed information about the new requirement and a list of acceptable residency documents parents can use, please visit the California Residency Requirement for New Drivers page at https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/dl/residency_requirement.

Please note the minor applicant will need to bring their official birth certificate when applying for their permit/license at the DMV. The DMV will not accept solely a passport any longer.

For more information about the other documents you should bring to the DMV when applying for a learner permit, please visit our State Requirements (for minors) page (specifically 'Step 2').

Please contact us if you have any questions.

Effective January 1, 2016

Slow Moving Vehicles (CVC 21656)

The existing Vehicle Code related to slow moving vehicles has been slightly modified to clarify that "any vehicle proceeding upon the highway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time, behind which five or more vehicles are formed in line, shall turn off the roadway at the nearest place designated as a turnout by signs." Previously this law stated that only a "slow-moving vehicle, including a passenger vehicle" shall turn off the roadway when a line of five or more vehicles are behind it. This law change now adds the component of "less than the normal speed" so there is no debate as to what defines a "slow-moving vehicle."

Bicycle Reflector (CVC 21201)

Bicycles operated during darkness upon a highway or a sidewalk must now be equipped with a red reflector or a solid or flashing red light with a built-in reflector on the rear.

Electric Bicycle Classes

CVC 312.5 adds an entirely new definition of an electric bicycle to the California Vehicle Code. An electric bicycle is defined as a bicycle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts. The law creates three classes of electric bicycles. Manufacturers will also need to certify the electric bicycles comply with specified requirements.

CVC 21207.5 states, a motorized bicycle or class 3 electric bicycle shall not be operated on a bicycle path or trail, bikeway, bicycle lane, equestrian trail, or hiking or recreational trail, unless it is within or adjacent to a roadway or unless the local authority or the governing body of a public agency having jurisdiction over the path or trail permits, by ordinance, that operation. The local authority or governing body may also prohibit the operation of a class 1 or class 2 electric bicycle on that path or trail.

Furthermore CVC 21213 requires, all operators of a Class 3 electric bicycle (maximum speed of 28 mph) must be 16 years of age or older and are required to wear a bicycle helmet. There is no financial responsibility, driver license, registration, or license plate requirement for these electric bicycles.

Pedicab Definition Expansion (CVC 467.5)

A pedicab is basically a bicycle for hire that transports passengers on seats behind it. This law expands the definition of pedicab to include a four-wheeled device that is pedal-powered, has a seating capacity for eight or more passengers, cannot travel in excess of 15 miles per hour, and is being used for transporting passengers for hire. CVC 21215 - 21215.5 sets requirements related to local authorization, operator qualifications and training, financial responsibility, accident reporting, safety equipment, and inspections. The law establishes rules and standards for the operation of pedicabs.

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