Motorists prepare for new traffic laws

New laws approved by the California legislature in 2019 will affect roadway safety in several ways, including increased distracted driving penalties, peace officer use of deadly force, bicycle turning movements at intersections, wildlife salvage permits and motor carrier permit rules.

In support of the department’s mission of providing the highest level of safety, service, and security, the California Highway Patrol is highlighting several new laws passed this year. Except where noted, these laws are effective Jan. 1, 2020.


License points for distracted driving

(AB 47, Daly)

Current law prohibits a person from driving a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone in a handheld manner; if found in violation, the offense is punishable by a fine. However, beginning July 1, 2021, this new law will levy an additional penalty on a driver found in violation of California’s hands-free law: a point will be added on to a driver’s record for each hands-free violation occurring within 36 months of a prior conviction for the same offense.


Wildlife salvage permits

(SB 395, Archuleta)

Directs the Department of Fish and Wildlife to conduct a wildlife-collision data collection pilot program to support wildlife conservation efforts. Additionally, this bill would authorize the Fish and Game Commission, in consultation with the CHP and other stakeholders, to establish a wildlife salvage pilot program.


Peace officer use of deadly force

(AB 392, Weber)          

Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, this new law revises the standards for use of deadly force by peace officers. The use of deadly force by a peace officer is justifiable when the officer reasonably believes it is necessary.


Law enforcement: Use of deadly force training policies (SB 230, Caballero)

With the enactment of AB 392, this new law requires law enforcement agencies to rewrite use of force policy and provide mandatory training to all peace officers in order to comply with the new law.


Traffic control devices: Bicycles (AB 1266, Rivas)

This new law allows bicycles to travel straight through a right or left-hand turn-only lane while at an intersection, if an official traffic control device indicates the movement is permitted.


Transportation: Omnibus bill

(AB 1810, Committee on Transportation)

Amends Section 34621 of the California Vehicle Code (CVC) allowing motor carriers of property to continue operating for 30 days past their permit expiration date, under specified circumstances. This legislation also provided for an amendment to Section 23229 CVC. California law will now prohibit the consumption of cannabis, in any manner, by passengers in a bus, taxicab, pedicab, limousine, housecars or camper.