New laws that drivers need to be aware of

By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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The start of the New Year brings with it new laws that motorists in California need to be aware of. In a Dec. 29 press release, the California Highway Patrol released a list of new traffic laws that went into effect on Jan. 1. The new traffic laws were passed by the legislature and signed by the governor earlier this year, according to CHP spokeswoman Fran Clader, and the CHP is “asking the motoring public to familiarize themselves with the changes before they take effect.” “Our hope is by educating the public of these new traffic safety laws in advance, more lives will be saved in the New Year,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. California’s Child Passenger Safety Seat law was amended and now requires children to ride in either a car seat or booster seat, and in the back seat, until they are eight-years-old or reach the height of 4 feet 9 inches. According to the CHP’s website, “a child’s injury risk is reduced by 33 percent when moved from the front seat to the back seat.” Prior to Jan. 1, the law required children 6-years-of age or over 60 pounds to ride in a booster seat in the rear seat of a car, according to SB 929 (Vehicles: child passenger restraints). Trish Derepentigny, of Lincoln, has a 5-year-old son and a 7-year-old daughter, so both children are subject to the new law. “I think it’s great if it keeps the kids safe,” Derepentigny said. “I’m all about keeping them safe.” Cherie Alteveres has three children, ranging in age from 2 to 6-years-old, and said having all three in boosters “gives me more peace of mind.” “I think it keeps them safe, and they’re more secure,” Alteveres said. “I feel more safe.” Assembly Bill 353 requires states that peace officers at a sobriety checkpoint are prohibited from impounding a vehicle for 30 days “if the only offense by the driver is failing to hold a valid drivers license.” The new law requires that the officer make “a reasonable attempt to identify the registered owner in order to release the vehicle.” Assembly Bill 520 says drivers convicted of reckless driving can apply for a restricted driver license prior to the completion of their one-year suspension if they meet specified conditions, including the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device in their vehicle, according to the CHP press release. According to Lincoln Police Sgt. Jeff Morse, an ignition interlock device “is a device installed in the vehicle’s ignition switch.” “The operator is required to provide a breath sample and not have any measurable amount of alcohol on their breath to start the engine,” Morse said. A law passed in 2010 pertaining to repeat drunk drivers went into effect Jan. 1. According to Assembly Bill 1601, section 23579 was added to the California Vehicle Code, and authorizes courts to revoke a driver’s license for 10 years if a person is convicted of three or more DUIs. The driver can then apply for reinstatement of their driver’s license after five years if they install an Ignition Interlock Device in their vehicle.