Just last week, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) issued a short press release about some changes to laws going into effect in 2021, either as of January 2021, or coming later this year. Compared to prior years where there have been long lists of new laws, there are relatively few new traffic laws in 2021. New laws to know about include:
- License points for distracted driving (AB 47): Starting on July 1, 2021, violating California’s hands-free law for a second time in a rolling 36 month period will result in a point being added to a driver’s record.
- Unattended children in motor vehicles (AB 2717): Starting January 1, 2021. People who break into a car to rescue a child who is 6 years old or younger who is in immediate danger due to heat, cold, or lack of ventilation are exempt from civil or criminal liability.
- “Move Over, Slow Down” Amendments (AB 2285): the state’s “Move Over, Slow Down” law is now extended from freeways to local streets and roads. The Move Over, Slow Down law requires drivers to move to another lane and slow down if they see law enforcement or emergency vehicle lights. This law was previously in place on freeways but now extends to all roads. In California, failure to obey the “Move Over Law” can result in fines of up to $1,000, plus points on your driving record. All 50 states have “Move Over” laws.
- Emergency vehicles (SB 909): Emergency vehicles are now authorized to use a “Hi-Lo” warning sound if there is an immediate need to evacuate an area.
Traffic law changes often are the result of catastrophic events or realized necessities. For example, the Camp Fire in Northern California (November 8, 2018), destroyed 11,000 homes and took 85 lives. The LA Times reported later that the fate of the small down was doomed long before the wildfire. Safety improvements like the hi-lo evacuation sirens equipped on vehicles will allow for better evacuation processes. When Assemblymember Ed Chau authored AB 2717 (exempting liability for people who rescue children), he cited six children dying in hot cars in 2018 and 2019.
In years past, new traffic laws have impacted the use of child safety seats, DUI penalties, motorcycle lane splitting, and school buses. Each year, Adamson Ahdoot, LLP monitors updates changes in traffic laws. If you have been injured in an accident and have questions about how a law could affect your rights in a personal injury claim, contact us today.