New laws or changes to existing laws that go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019 meant to make California roads safer

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Friday, December 21, 2018
New laws going into effect on Jan 1, 2019
Several new laws or changes go into effect come the New Year and they're designed to make California roads safer.

LOS ANGELES -- Several new laws or changes go into effect come the New Year and they're designed to make California roads safer.

RELATED: Guns, cannabis, pets: 2019 brings lots of new California laws

Here's a look at the new laws or changes that will be made to existing ones:

Helmet restrictions

If you're under 18 and not wearing a helmet on a bicycle, scooter, skateboard or skates then you might get a fix-it ticket. That citation can be fixed within 120 days of receiving it if the minor shows the law enforcement agency that they've completed a bicycle safety course and have a helmet that meets safety standards.

But anyone age 18 or over is no longer required to wear a bicycle helmet on motorized scooters.

Temporary license plates

Licensed California dealers of new and used vehicles must attach temporary license plates to a vehicle once it's sold if the vehicle doesn't have any previous DMV-issued plates. The temporary plates have a unique number and expiration date, and vehicles cannot be driving off a dealership lot without the temporary plates.

Gender identity

Anyone applying for a California driver's license or ID card may identify as a male, female or nonbinary in the application. Applicants who choose nonbinary will see an X next to the gender category on the card.


Starting Jan. 1, 2019 until Jan. 1, 2026, repeat DUI offenders and first-time DUI offenders whose violations cause injury must install an ignition interlock device for anywhere from 12 to 48 months. The law allows anyone who receives a suspension to get a device and receive credit toward the required device restriction period if they're later convicted of a DUI.

The restrictions apply to DUI violations that involve alcohol or alcohol and drug combinations. Courts also have the chance to order first-time DUI offenders who didn't cause injury to install a device for up to six months. If the device is not court-ordered for the first-time offender, then they have the option to apply for a license and get a device requiring them to drive to work and to and from a DUI treatment program for 12 months.

Smog check changes

Vehicles that are eight model years old are now exempt from requiring a smog check compared to the previous law that exempted vehicles at six years. But vehicles that have those additional two years of exemption will have to pay a $25 yearly smog abatement fee. Also, the current $20 smog abatement fee for the first six years of exemption remains unchanged.

Driving for minors

Repeals a juvenile court's ability to suspend, restrict or delay a teen from getting a driver's license if they are constantly absent or a ward of the state.

Unsafe, unsecured loads

The DMV must include at least one question addressing laws regarding driving with an unsafe and unsecure load in at least 20 percent of the test required to get a driver's license. Unsecured loads such as ladders, buckets and other loose items in the back of trucks can be dangerous because they could fall onto the roadway.

Carpool lanes

Assembly Bill 544 created a new program that allowed low-emission and transitional zero-emission vehicles access to carpool lanes for a four-year period regardless of how many people were in the vehicle. A green or white decal that was placed on those vehicles is valid until Jan. 1, 2019, and after that those vehicles will no longer have access to HOV lanes.

But any vehicle that has a green or white decal that was issued between Jan. 1, 2017 and March 1, 2018 can apply for a red decal that allows access in carpool lanes until Jan. 1, 2022. The DMV should have notified customers of that eligibility by mail.

The department will also issue light purple decals in 2019 that will give people access to HOV lanes until Jan. 1, 2023. Those decals are available to people who have not applied for or received a consumer rebate for the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project unless they meet annual income requirements.

Take a look at more stories and videos about legislation in California.