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The New Year Brings New Auto Safety and Vehicle Laws

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There were several new laws relating to motorists that took effect Jan. 1. Some were more publicized than others. Here is a list from the Auto Club of Southern California.

These are the laws that will take effect January 1:

• Street racing offenders: SB 67, which reauthorizes a law that lapsed in 2006, will allow police to impound a vehicle for 30 days when a person is arrested for street racing, exhibition of speed or reckless driving.
Traffic school: AB 645 prohibits a court from allowing a driver who commits a two-point violation from attending traffic school. Examples of such violations include drunk driving, hit-and-run, speed contests, evading an officer and vehicular manslaughter.
School zones: AB 321 will now allow local government agencies to adopt ordinances establishing speed limits of 15 mph in a school zone. The current speed limit in these zones is 25 mph. This new law requires that the 15-mph speed limit be posted up to 500 feet from the school.

• Smoking in Vehicles: SB 7 prohibits any motorist or passenger from smoking a cigarette, cigar or pipe in a car when there is a minor. This law applies whether the vehicle is moving or parked. A violation can cost up to $100. But police can only cite for this violation in connection with a stop for another suspected driving offense.
Lost key replacement: SB 1542 requires that auto makers provide at any time the key codes necessary for a licensed and registered locksmith to replace lost keys for vehicles sold or leased in California after Jan. 1, 2008. The only exception applies to auto makers who sell less than 2,500 vehicles annually and to manufacturers who make their own keys such as BMW and Mercedes Benz. These companies have until 2013 to comply with this law.

The following laws will take effect July 1, 2008:

Distracted adult drivers: SB 1613 will prohibit adults from using handheld cell phones while driving. Violations could result in fines of $70 for the first offense and at least $175 for subsequent offenses.
• Distracted teen drivers: SB 33 will prohibit a driver 18 and under from using any cell phone or mobile service device for texting or other purposes while driving, even if equipped with a hands-free device.

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