The California Department of Motor Vehicles wants Californians to be aware of several new laws taking effect in the new year.
The laws listed below take effect on Jan. 1, 2024, unless otherwise noted.
Advancing Modernization and Customer Service
Driver’s License Renewal Alternatives – AB 1606 (Gipson)
Authorizes the DMV Director to establish a program to evaluate the traffic safety and other effects of renewing driver’s licenses by virtual or other remote processes. This is in addition to current online renewal options offered to most drivers under 70 years old. The program would allow drivers 70 and older to complete certain driver’s license renewal requirements, such as vision and knowledge tests, by virtual or remote means. Drivers 80 and older would still be required to renew in person at the DMV. The law is intended to provide older drivers with renewal alternatives to visiting a DMV office, while overall increasing customer convenience and reducing the number of visits to DMV offices.
Making Our Roads and Communities Safer
Speed Camera Pilot Program – AB 645 (Friedman)
Establishes a five-year pilot program to give local transportation authorities in San Jose, Oakland, Los Angeles, Glendale, Long Beach and San Francisco the authority to install a limited number of speed cameras on local streets where there are safety concerns. The cameras will automatically take a picture of a speeding car’s license plate and deliver a notice of violation to the registered owner through the mail. The law is intended to reduce speeding, traffic collisions, serious injuries and fatalities.
Improved Visibility at Crosswalks and Intersections – AB 413 (Lee)
Prohibits a person from parking a vehicle within 20 feet of either side of any marked or unmarked crosswalk, or within 15 feet of any crosswalk where a curb extension is present. Permits local governments to allow parking for bicycles or motorized scooters within 20 feet of a crosswalk. The law is intended to increase visibility for all road users to see oncoming traffic by removing parked cars near crosswalks and intersections, a safety measure known as “daylighting.”
Crackdown on Catalytic Converter Theft – SB 55 (Umberg); AB 641 (Fong); AB 1519 (Bains)
These new laws are intended to help combat the theft of catalytic converters and keep Californians and their cars safer. SB 55 prohibits motor vehicle dealers from selling a vehicle equipped with a catalytic converter unless the converter has been permanently marked with the vehicle’s identification number (VIN), with some exceptions. AB 641 makes it a misdemeanor for a person to possess nine or more used catalytic converters that have been cut from a vehicle, with some exceptions. AB 1519 makes it a misdemeanor to remove or alter any VIN or other unique marking that has been added to a catalytic converter, and it also makes it a misdemeanor to knowingly possess three catalytic converters that have a VIN or other unique marking removed or altered.
Honoring First Responders
California Firefighter Memorial Restoration – SB 374 (Ashby)
The law increases the revenue available to the California Fire Foundation by increasing firefighter specialty license plate renewal fees from $35 to $40, ensuring the state can adequately honor fallen firefighters. The foundation plans to use any additional revenues generated by this fee change to enhance the ongoing support for the foundation’s work, including providing resources for renovations to the California Firefighters’ Memorial located on the State Capitol grounds in Sacramento.
ID Card Pilot Program for San Diego County Inmates – AB 1329 (Maienschein)
Authorizes the DMV and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department to implement a pilot program to provide eligible inmates a valid identification card or driver’s license when they are released from a county detention facility. The law is intended to expand on the progress of the Cal-ID program, which streamlines access to support services, such as medical, housing and right-to-work documents upon release.
Verifying Registration Before Removing a Vehicle – AB 925 (Ta)
Requires a peace officer or traffic enforcement official to verify the lack of current vehicle registration with the DMV before towing a vehicle for expired registration longer than six months and prohibits the vehicle from being towed if the officer or traffic enforcement official does not have immediate access to those records. The law is intended to avoid unnecessary impoundments for vehicles that are currently registered but do not have current registration tags on the license plate and spare additional hardship for people who may not have the money to retrieve their vehicle from an impound lot.
Driver’s Licenses Can No Longer Be Impounded for Not Paying Fines – AB 1125 (Hart)
Repeals existing law authorizing courts to impound a person’s driver’s license and order the person not to drive for 30 days if they fail to make an agreed upon installment payments for bail or a fine. The law is intended to reduce the harm caused to people with low incomes who need to drive to work or access essential services.
Traffic School Non-Attendance – AB 466 (Gipson)
Removes provisions making the failure to attend traffic violator school a misdemeanor and clarifies that the failure to attend traffic violator school is not punishable as a new offense. Clarifies that the underlying conviction of a person who fails to attend traffic violator school shall not be confidential and the person shall have traffic violation points assessed, as applicable. The law is intended to spare people with low incomes from additional fines and criminal penalties that have no impact on road safety.