The California Department of Motor Vehicles wants Californians to be aware of several new laws taking effect in the new year. The laws listed take effect on Jan. 1, 2023, unless otherwise noted.
Notable Changes in 2023
Online Driver’s License Renewal for Californians 70 and older ends Dec. 31 (AB 174, Committee on Budget)
Starting Jan. 1, California law will again require drivers 70 and older to renew their license in person at a DMV office. There’s only a few more days individuals 70 and older to take advantage of the temporary rule allowing them to renew their driver’s licenses or identification cards online or by mail – even if their renewal notice states a visit to a DMV field office is required. In October 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom temporarily waived the California law requiring senior drivers to renew their licenses at a DMV field office and signed AB 174 in September 2021 to allow online or by mail renewals through the end of 2022. This temporary online option has helped Californians avoid DMV field offices during the COVID-19 pandemic.
New Requirement for Permanent Disabled Person Parking Placard Renewals (SB 611, Hill, 2017)
The DMV is sending notices to Californians who have had their permanent Disabled Person Parking Placard for at least six years and asking them to confirm that they are still in need of one. The DMV will not renew placards for people who do not respond. This renewal requirement is one provision of prior legislation, SB 611, enacted in 2017 to curb fraud and abuse of Disabled Person Parking Placards.
Making Roads and Communities Safer
Consumer Notices for Semiautonomous Vehicles (SB 1398, Gonzalez)
Dealers and manufacturers that sell new passenger vehicles equipped with a partial driving automation feature or provide any software update or vehicle upgrade that adds such a feature are required to give a clear description of its functions and limitations. The law also prohibits a manufacturer or dealer from deceptively marketing a feature.
Enhanced Safeguards for Bicycle Riders (AB 1909, Friedman)
Drivers are now required to change into another available lane, when possible, to pass cyclists, building on the current requirement for drivers to give cyclists at least three feet of space when passing. The law also permits Class 3 e-bike riders to use approved bicycle paths and trails, bikeways and bicycle lanes. In addition, starting on Jan. 1, 2024, the law allows cyclists to cross an intersection when a walk sign is on.
Ban on Sideshows at Parking Facilities (AB 2000, Gabriel)
Parking lots across the state are now included with public roads as locations where street racing and sideshows are banned. Another law passed in 2021 (AB 3, Fong) allows courts to suspend an individual’s driver’s license for violating this ban beginning on July 1, 2025.
Crackdown on Catalytic Converter Theft (SB 1087, Gonzalez and AB 1740, Muratsuchi)
These laws enhance requirements on recyclers to keep specific records of catalytic converters they receive and on the authorized parties that can sell used catalytic converters. These laws aim to reduce the increasing theft of catalytic converters and help keep Californians and their cars safer.
Veteran Designation on Driver’s Licenses (SB 837, Umberg)
This law eliminates the $5 fee for obtaining a military “VETERAN” designation on a driver’s license or identification (ID) card.
Toll Exemptions for Certain Veterans (AB 2949, Lee)
This law exempts vehicles registered to veterans displaying specialized license plates from paying tolls on roads, bridges, highways, vehicular crossings, or other toll facilities. The exemption applies only to vehicles with license plates that are issued to a disabled veteran, Pearl Harbor survivor, prisoner of war, or to veterans who have received distinctions such as the Purple Heart or the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Digital Notices and Remote Renewals for Some Transactions (SB 1193, Newman)
This law allows customers to receive certain DMV notices electronically – which previously had been required to be mailed – if they opt in. It also removes the requirement that a vehicle salesperson’s license be renewed in person, which will enable the DMV to establish a renewal program that allows for consecutive remote vehicle salesperson license renewals. The law will help save time, paper and reduce the number of transactions needing to be completed at a field office.
Alternatives to Conventional License Plates, Stickers, Tabs and Registration Cards (AB 984, Wilson)
The DMV will create a new ongoing program that allows entities to issue alternatives such as digital license plates, vinyl front license plate wraps and digital registration cards. Since 2015, the current pilot program has enrolled more than 19,000 customers for digital license plates, more than 5,000 customers for vinyl license plates and less than 100 customers for e-registration. The DMV will work on regulations to govern how the requirements for the permanent program will be implemented.
Reform of License Suspension Law (AB 2746, Friedman)
California state courts will stop sending notices to the DMV for license suspensions for failure to appear starting on Jan. 1, 2023, while requiring the DMV to stop suspending licenses for failing to appear starting on Jan. 1, 2027, to allow time to make computer programming changes.