Among the new laws that take effect in January is AB 2020, which deletes the option for persons alleged to be driving under the influence of drugs to choose a chemical test of their urine for the purpose of determining drug impairment, with certain exceptions. Other new laws will establish a new license plate, protect car buyers from "buy-here-pay-here" car dealers in purchase transactions, establish safety standards for autonomous vehicles and impose a new fee on vessel owners. The following is a listing of selected motor vehicle and driver-related laws that will take effect on January 1, 2013.
Driving Under the Influence. Drivers suspected of driving under the influence of drugs will no longer have the option to choose a chemical test of their urine to determine drug content. By requiring a blood test, with a few exceptions, AB 2020 will help law enforcement and prosecutors to better identify and convict persons driving under the influence of drugs. If a blood test is unavailable, then the person is deemed to have given his or her consent to a urine test. (AB 2020/Pan)
California Legacy License Plates. Effective January 1, 2013, DMV will accept applications for a series of three specialized license plates that replicate plates from California's past. Motorists will be able to choose from a minimum of three styles: yellow background with black lettering, black background with yellow lettering, and blue background with yellow lettering. (AB 1658/Gatto)
"Buy-Here-Pay-Here" Car Dealers. Two new laws are directed at used car dealers that assign less than 90 percent of their conditional sales and lease contracts to third party lenders; and therefore provide direct financing to car buyers. One of the new laws defines these used car dealers as "buyhere-pay-here" dealers.
AB 1447 further prohibits these dealers from requiring buyers to make payments in person, except for the down payment, and limits the circumstances under which "buy-here-pay-here" dealers may track a vehicle using electronic tracking technology (GPS tracking). "Buy-here-pay-here" used car dealers will not be allowed to disable a vehicle with starter interrupt technology without first notifying the buyer in writing at the time of sale. In addition, "buy-here-pay here" used car dealers will be required to provide a 30-day or 1,000 mile warranty as part of any purchase or lease of a used vehicle. (AB 1447/Feuer)
AB 1534 requires "buy-here-pay-here" used car dealers to affix and prominently display a label on any used vehicle offered for retail sale that provides the reasonable market value of the vehicle. The label must contain specific information from a recognized pricing guide used to determine that value and the date the value was determined. The prospective purchaser must also be provided with a copy of the information that the dealer used to determine the vehicle's value. (AB 1534/Wieckowski)
Traffic Violator School. AB 1888 will allow commercial drivers to attend traffic violator school (TVS) for violations that take place when operating non-commercial vehicles. The conviction would not count as a point for determining whether a driver is presumed to be a negligent operator unless it was considered a serious violation. The record of the conviction would not be held confidential and would be disclosed to employers, and to insurers for insurance underwriting and rating purposes. (AB 1888/Gatto)
Veteran License Plates. An increase in fees for the issuance, renewal, and personalization of veterans' organizations license plates will benefit the County Veterans Service Officers Fund. The fund is used by local agencies to assist veterans and their families in obtaining benefits and services accrued through military service. This new law also clarifies the plate's availability to veterans and non-veterans, requires DMV to make decals available for the plate that indicate an applicant's service in a particular war or armed conflict and decals honoring veterans of a particular war or conflict. Additionally, the law will require DMV to make available a "yellow ribbon/support our troops" decal to be issued in lieu of the above-described service decals. (AB 1550/Bonilla)
Autonomous Vehicles. This new law allows for testing of autonomous vehicles, or self-driving cars, by designees of an autonomous technology manufacturer, provided certain requirements are met. Prior to the public operating autonomous vehicles, a manufacturer is required to submit an application to DMV, and certify that specified insurance, vehicle safety, and testing standards have been met. The legislation authorizes regulations to specify any additional requirements deemed necessary by DMV, such as limitations on the number of autonomous vehicles deployed on the states highways, special vehicle registration and driver licensing requirements, and rules for the suspension, revocation, or denial of any license or approval issued by DMV pertaining to autonomous vehicles. (SB 1298/Padilla)
Vessel Registration Fees. An increase in vessel registration fees, as yet to be determined by the Department of Boating and Waterways, will be collected by DMV to fund the implementation and administration of dreissenid mussel monitoring, inspection, and infestation prevention programs in California waterways. The fee may not exceed ten dollars and will not be imposed on vessels operated exclusively in marine waters. (AB 2443/Williams)