NEW LAWS AFFECTING CALIFORNIA DRIVERS IN 2017

  • January 6, 2017

Cell Phones and Wireless Communication Devices

Perhaps the one that affects most drivers in California is AB 1785 that amended California Vehicle Code section 23123.5 which prohibits a person driving a motor vehicle to hold and operate a wireless telephone or “an electronic wireless communication device” unless it is specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation.

The device can be mounted in the vehicle “in the manner already required of GPS devices, or must be on the dashboard or lower, so as not to interfere with vision.”  It a driver’s hand “is used to activate or deactivate a feature or function of the handheld wireless telephone or wireless communications device with the motion of a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger.”

In a nutshell, you can’t drive with a cell phone or any other wireless device in your hand.  It if is mounted properly, the only lawful way to use the device is if it only takes a “single swipe” or a “tap of” the finger.

The bottom line is that you can’t hold a phone in your hand or have to manipulate the phone other than a quick swipe or tap of a finger.

This does not apply to devices embedded by the manufacturer in the vehicle such as navigation systems or voice activated systems.

While it is an infraction with fines only, any police officer who sees you with a phone in the hand calling someone, texting, emailing, or looking at a map, can pull you over.

Blood Alcohol Levels While Driving A Vehicle For Hire Will Become .04 BAC

It has been unlawful for commercial drivers to have blood alcohol levels of .04 or more in California.  Of course, that means drivers with Class A and B licenses where they drive big rigs, buses, big commercial vehicles, etc.

What about people who drive other people around in passenger cars for money?  That means Uber and Lyft drivers as well as other for hire drivers – Vehicle Code section 23152 (e) gives an early warning that starting July 1, 2018, “it shall be unlawful for a person who has 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a motor vehicle when a passenger for hire is a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the offense. For purposes of this subdivision, “passenger for hire” means a passenger for whom consideration is contributed or expected as a condition of carriage in the vehicle, whether directly or indirectly flowing to the owner, operator, agent, or any other person having an interest in the vehicle.”

It doesn’t take much to get to a .04 BAC, but think about it, if you are working and driving someone around for a fee, he or she shouldn’t be drinking at all right?

Ignition Interlock Devices

Right now, there are four test counties in California where it is required that you install an ignition interlock device even for a first time DUI conviction in order to get a license back.  The length of time depends on if it is first conviction or a conviction with priors, but it can be anywhere from 5 months to several years.

Statewide, individuals who have multiple DUI convictions can get a restricted license much sooner if they install an ignition interlock device, enrolled in a multiple offender DUI class, and have a SR22.  On a second conviction, assuming there are no other issues, 90 days after the conviction, on a third, six months after the conviction.

Starting in 2019, ignition interlocks will become mandatory statewide pursuant to AB 1046.

One benefit for some individuals will be that if arrested for a DUI and he or she does not want to lose the ability to drive for what we call the mandatory hard suspension period which for a first DUI administrative suspension would be 30 days, starting in 2019, there may be a way to avoid the hard suspension period so long as the ignition interlock device is installed.

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