The New Year will usher in a variety of new state laws. In California, there are several changes in the law of which drivers should be aware.
First, for motorcyclists under age 21, in order to receive an instruction permit, the motorcyclist must pass an approved safety course. The permit must then be held for six months in order to get a motorcycle driver’s license. The California Department of Motor Vehicles says there are currently over 6,000 motorcyclists under the age of 19 in the state.
There has also been a change for drivers of hybrid vehicles. Drivers of hybrids have been allowed to drive in the high-occupancy vehicle lanes even if there was only one person in the vehicle. That was set to expire on January 1, but the deadline’s been extended until July 1. Drivers of electric and compressed natural gas vehicles will be allowed to drive solo in the HOV lane until 2015. Plug-in hybrids will be allowed to drive solo in the HOV lane from 2012 until 2015.
There’s some good news for drivers who have to go to traffic school – they will be allowed to take classes online and at home. However, this process may take up to three years to be completely implemented. There’s also some good news for firefighters – starting January 2, firefighters will not have to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License in order to drive a fire truck – a special license has been created for them.
California recently decided to take an even tougher stance on drunk drivers. Beginning in 2012, drivers who are convicted of a third or subsequent DUI may lose their licenses for 10 years.
A couple of other changes in the traffic laws will take effect July 1 of next year. Starting July 1, drivers will be able to choose either yes or no on whether they wish to be organ donors. Previously drivers could only answer “yes” or leave it blank. Also beginning on July 1, local authorities will not be able to make any traffic ordinances on a matter that’s already governed by California state law.