New California Road Laws in 2019

Come January 1, 2019, some new laws will be in effect on California's roads. 


Gender identity laws: The law allows people applying for a California drivers license or ID card to self-certify their chosen gender category of male, female or non-binary. Applicants who choose non-binary will receive an X in the gender category.

Motorized Scooters: This law no longer requires helmets for riders who are at least 18-years-old on motorized scooters. It also prohibits people from operating the scooters on a highway with a speed limit over 25 miles per hour unless within a class IV or class II bikeway. 

Smog check changes and new abatement fees: The law expands smog check exemptions to vehicles that are up to eight model years old. During the additional two years, the vehicles will pay an annual $25 smog abatement fee.

Temporary license plate program: The law requires dealers to attach a temporary paper license plate on a vehicle at the time of sale unless the vehicle has a previously-issued license plate. The intent of the new law is to reduce the number of toll violations. 

Driving under the influence, ignition interlock device: From January 1, 2019 through January 1, 2026, the law mandates that repeat offenders for DUI and first DUI offenders whose violations result in injury to install an ignition interlock device for a period ranging between 12 and 48 months.

Driving privilege for minors: The law repeals a juvenile court’s authority to suspend, restrict or delay the issuance of a drivers 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 January 1, 2019, remain in effect.

Unsafe, unsecured loads on vehicles: The law requires the DMV to include at least one question addressing laws on driving with an unsafe, unsecured load in at least 20 percent of the knowledge tests.

The DMV is also reminding drivers of low-emission an transitional zero-emission vehicles that their green or white decals granting them access to HOV lanes expires January 1, 2019. Vehicles issued a green or white decal between January 1, 2017 and March 1, 2018 are eligible to apply for a red decal that grants them access to HOV lanes through January 1, 2022. The DMV plans to issue light purple decals in 2019 that will grant access to HOV lanes through January 1, 2023. Those eligible include drivers who haven’t applied for or received a consumer rebate pursuant to the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, unless they meet annual income requirements.


Photo Credit: Getty Images 

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