California DMV Previews New Motor Vehicle Laws Coming in 2019

December 20, 2018

The California Department of Motor Vehicles this week issued a reminder of new laws or changes to existing laws going into effect Jan 1, 2019 that motorist and auto insurance professionals should be aware of.

The new laws or changes are:

Temporary License Plate Program (AB 516, Mullin): The law requires licensed California dealers of new and used vehicles to attach temporary paper license plates on a vehicle at the point of sale if that vehicle does not display license plates previously issued by the DMV. The temporary license plates contain a unique number and expiration date. No vehicle can be driven off the dealership lot without the temporary license plate affixed to it unless it already has issued plates. The intent of this new law is to reduce the number of toll violators and improve safety for law enforcement.

Gender Identity Female, Male, or Nonbinary (SB 179, Atkins): This law allows individuals applying for a California driver license or identification card to self-certify their chosen gender category of male, female or nonbinary in the application. Applicants who select nonbinary will receive a card with an “X” in the gender category.

Driving Under the Influence – Ignition Interlock Device (SB 1046, Hill): The law mandates repeat offenders for driving under the influence and first DUI offenders whose violations resulted in injury to install an ignition interlock device for a period ranging from 12 to 48 months. The law also allows those who receive a suspension under the Administrative Per Se law to obtain an IID-restricted driving privilege, and receive credit toward their required IID restriction period if they are later convicted of a DUI. These provisions apply to DUI violations that involve alcohol or the combined use of alcohol and drugs. They do not apply to drug-only violations.

Smog Check Changes and New Abatement Fees (AB 1274, O’Donnell): The law expands the existing smog check exemption to vehicles that are up to eight model years old, up from the current exemption of six model years. During the additional two years of exemption, these vehicles will pay an annual $25 smog abatement fee. The current annual $20 smog abatement fee for the first six years of exemption remains unchanged.

Driving Privilege for Minors (AB 2685, Lackey): The law repeals a juvenile court’s authority to suspend, restrict or delay the issuance of a driver license of a habitual truant or ward of the state for up to one year. The law clarifies that any suspensions or delays reported prior to Jan. 1, 2019, remain in effect.

Motorized Scooters, (AB 2989, Flora): Bicycle helmets are no longer required for riders of motorized scooters who are age 18 or older. It also amends existing law to prohibit a person from operating a motorized scooter on a highway with a speed limit greater than 25 miles per hour, unless it is within a Class IV bikeway as well as a Class II bikeway. However, it permits local authorities to authorize the operation of motorized scooters on roads with speed limits up to 35 miles per hour outside of a Class II or Class IV bikeway.

Unsafe, unsecured loads on vehicles (AB 1925, Choi): The law requires the DMV to include at least one question addressing laws pertaining to driving with an unsafe, unsecured load in at least 20 percent of the knowledge tests administered to driver license applicants. Unsecured loads, such as ladders, buckets and loose items in the back of pickup trucks, can be dangerous for motorists when they fall onto the road. Therefore, all vehicle loads must be covered or secured.

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