It might take you a little longer to stop writing “2017,” but 2018 is already underway. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with the swift arrow of time. It can be equally difficult to keep up with the new laws that keep getting passed. Ignorance is no excuse, though. To help keep you on the right side of law, here’s a look at the new legal issues California drivers need to know.
Driving and Marijuana
Recreational marijuana stores have started opening their doors in some California cities, but just because the state has legalized pot, that doesn’t mean that anything goes – especially not when it comes to driving.
Under California Vehicle Code Section 23152(f), “It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.” This broadly written law does not only apply to illegal drugs. It also applies to legal drugs that can impact one’s driving ability, including both prescription drugs and marijuana.
In other words, people caught driving while high on marijuana can be still convicted of a DUI.
Using marijuana in a car is also illegal for both drivers and passengers. California Senate Bill 65 prohibits people from smoking, eating or otherwise ingesting marijuana while driving or riding in a car. This is similar to laws prohibiting alcohol consumption in cars.
Other New Laws
In addition to the law covering marijuana use in vehicles, drivers should be aware of these changes:
- Assembly Bill 503 may give some relief to low-income Californians who have outstanding parking penalties.
- Assembly Bill 1027 lets the DMV accept the completion of an eligible motorcyclist-training program instead of a motorcycle skills test.
- When registering their vehicles, people will pay more under the Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Program. The Transportation Improvement Fee ranges from $25 to $175 and is based on the vehicle’s current value.
- Starting July 1, 2018, passengers on buses will need to use seat belts when seat belts are provided. Children between the ages of eight and 16 must use a seat belt or appropriate child passenger restraint system on buses.
- Also starting July 1, 2018, drivers with a passenger for hire in their personal vehicle can be convicted of a DUI with a BAC of .04 percent. In other words, Uber and Lyft drivers will be held to a higher standard than non-commercial drivers, for whom the normal limit is .08 percent.
For more details and information on other changes, including a new license plate program, changes for disabled person parking placards, authority over private carriers of passengers and a new HOV decal program for 2019, read the DMV’s notice.