A required motorcycle safety course for under-21 motorcycle permit applicants, new oversight of online traffic violator schools, and extensions of HOV lane stickers are among several new laws of interest to California motorists that will take effect Jan. 2, 2011, the Department of Motor Vehicles announced December 15.
Following are capsule summaries of the new laws:
- Motorcycle Instruction Permit (AB 1952/Niello) This new law requires a person under 21 years of age to complete an approved motorcycle safety course before being issued an instruction permit with which to practice operating a motorcycle, and requires the permit to be held for six months before being issued a class M motorcycle driver license. There are currently more than 6,000 drivers 19 years and younger who are licensed to ride a motorcycle in California.
- Traffic Violator School Program (AB 2499/Portantino) Prior to this new law which starts January 1, the DMV only licensed and regulated “brick and mortar” classroom traffic violator schools. This new law will bring court-approved courses, such as online and home study traffic schools into the DMV Traffic Violator School licensing program and implements a number of recommendations included in a DMV study of traffic violator school issues. This law will have a 3-year implementation process.
- High-Occupancy Vehicle Lanes (SB 535/Yee) Prior law that permitted certain fuel-efficient, low-emission vehicles to display stickers allowing them to be operated in HOV lanes with a single occupant was to expire on January 1, 2011. The new law extends the “sunset” date for the yellow stickers for hybrid vehicles until July 1, 2011; the white stickers issued to fully-electric and compressed natural gas vehicles until January 1, 2015; and creates a third sticker, for plug-in hybrid vehicles, to be issued and valid from January 1, 2012 until January 1, 2015.
- New Firefighter Endorsement (AB 1648/Jeffries) In an effort to simplify the proper licensing of firefighters while continuing to ensure public safety, this law exempts operators of firefighting vehicles from the Commercial Driver License program and creates a new license endorsement process.
New Laws Starting on July 1 and Beyond
· Organ Donation (SB 1395/Alquist) Starting July 1, the language on the DMV’s application for a driver license will include a “no” option relative to an applicant’s willingness to register as a prospective organ donor to increase the number of enrollees in the organ donor program. This change will now require the organ donor registration field of the application to be answered with either a yes or no response.
· Local Traffic Ordinances (SB 949/Oropeza) On July 1, in an effort of ensuring that traffic convictions are recorded by the Department of Motor Vehicles, local authorities may not enact or enforce a local ordinance on any matter covered by the California Vehicle Code.
· Driving Under the Influence (AB 1601/Hill) Effective in January 1, 2012, this bill authorizes a court to order a 10-year revocation of the driver license of a person convicted of a third or subsequent DUI violation, with possible reinstatement after five years if specified conditions are met.
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Don’t Stand In Line, Go Online! Doing business with the DMV has never been easier. The DMV offers an array of services to customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through its Web site, including online appointments for written and drive tests; vehicle registration and driver license renewals, selection of personalized license plates, changes of address and payment of fees via secure debit transactions.
DMV is a department under the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, which is under the direction of Secretary Dale E. Bonner. The DMV licenses drivers; maintains driving records; registers and tracks official ownership of vehicles and vessels; investigates auto and identity-related fraud; and licenses car dealers, driving schools, and traffic violator schools.