California’s drunk driving laws 2017: NEW TRAFFIC SAFETY LAWS TAKE EFFECT IN 2017



SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The new year brings a handful of new traffic safety laws for California. These changes to current law, or additional laws, were passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. As part of the continued mission of saving lives, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) is seeking to educate the public on some of the new rules of the road taking effect at the beginning of next month.
Child safety seats (AB 53, Garcia) Although this law was passed during the 2015 legislative session, it takes effect January 1, 2017. Children under two years of age must ride rear-facing in an appropriate child passenger safety seat. Children weighing 40 or more pounds, or standing 40 or more inches tall, are exempt. California law continues to require that all children under the age of eight be properly restrained in an appropriate child safety seat in the back seat of a vehicle.
Vehicles: Use of Wireless Electronic Devices (AB 1785, Quirk) Motorists are no longer permitted to hold a wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device while driving a motor vehicle. Rather than holding the device, it must be mounted in the 7-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield farthest removed from the driver or in a 5-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield nearest to the driver. Another option is to affix the device to the dashboard in a place that does not obstruct the driver’s clear view of the road and does not interfere with the deployment of an airbag.

The law does allow a driver to operate one of these devices with the motion of a single swipe or tap of the finger, but not while holding it.
Driving under the influence: Ignition Interlock Device (SB 1046, Hill) This law requires a driving under the influence (DUI) offender to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on their vehicle for a specified period of time in order to get a restricted driver license or to reinstate their license. The law also removes the required suspension time before a person can get a restricted license, provided that the offender installs an IID on their vehicle. The law extends the current four-county (Sacramento, Los Angeles, Alameda, Tulare) DUI IID pilot program until January 1, 2019, at which time all DUI offenders statewide will be required to install an IID to have their license reinstated.
Vehicle Motorcycles: Lane Splitting (AB 51, Quirk) Current law does not change; lane splitting by a motorcyclist remains legal if done safely. This bill defines lane splitting as driving a motorcycle, which has two wheels in contact with the ground, between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane. The bill permits the CHP to develop lane splitting educational safety guidelines in consultation with other state traffic safety agencies and at least one organization focused on motorcycle safety.
School Bus Safety : Child Alert System (SB 1072, Mendoza) This law requires all school buses, school pupil activity buses, youth buses, and child care motor vehicles used to transport school-age children to be equipped with a “child safety alert system.” Every school is required to have a transportation safety plan with procedures to ensure that a pupil is not left unattended in a vehicle.
Charter Bus Safety Improvements (SB 247, Lara) All buses manufactured after July 1, 2020, will be required to have emergency lighting fixtures that will turn on in the event of an impact or collision. The law also requires a bus company to ensure the driver of the charter bus provides oral and written, or video instructions to all passengers on safety equipment and emergency exits on the bus prior to any trip.
Tour Buses: Safety Inspections (AB 1677, Ting) This new law requires the CHP to develop protocols for entering into a memorandum of understanding with local governments to increase the number of inspections for tour buses operated within their jurisdiction.

 

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California’s drunk driving laws can be found in Vehicle Code section 23152 below:

  • 23152(a) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle.
  • 2315d(b) It is unlawful for a person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle
  • 2315d(e) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.
  • 23152(f) It is unlawful for a person who is under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug to drive a vehicle.
  • Note: In most cases, both the 23152(a) and (b) offenses will be charged. Even though there is only one act, the law says that a defendant charged with drinking and driving can be convicted of BOTH offenses — but can only be punished for one (the punishments are identical). Vehicle Code section 23153 sets forth the “felony DUI” provisions where an injury results from the drunk driving, while Penal Code sections 191.5 and 192 describe the crime of “vehicular manslaughter” where there is a death.

Procedurally, you should be aware of certain legal rights you have — rights which are commonly ignored by the police:

  • There must be legally sufficient facts to constitute “probable cause” to stop, detain and arrest you.
  • You should be advised that submission to field sobriety testing and portable field breath testing is not required by law.
  • Once arrested, you must be advised of your constitutional rights — the “Miranda” warning — before any further questioning takes place.
  • You must be given a choice of breath or blood testing; if you refuse, you must be advised of the legal consequences (the “implied consent” advisement).
  • If a breath test is administered at the police station, since the breath sample is not saved, you must be given a chance to obtain a blood sample for later independent testing by your DUI defense attorney.

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Vehicle Code section 23152

(a) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle.

(b) It is unlawful for a person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.

For purposes of this article and Section 34501.16, percent, by weight, of alcohol in a person’s blood is based upon grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.

In any prosecution under this subdivision, it is a rebuttable presumption that the person had 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of driving the vehicle if the person had 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of the performance of a chemical test within three hours after the driving.

(c) It is unlawful for a person who is addicted to the use of any drug to drive a vehicle. This subdivision shall not apply to a person who is participating in a narcotic treatment program approved pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 11875) of Chapter 1 of Part 3 of Division 10.5 of the Health and Safety Code.

(d) It is unlawful for a person who has 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a commercial motor vehicle, as defined in Section 15210. In a prosecution under this subdivision, it is a rebuttable presumption that the person had 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of driving the vehicle if the person had 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of the performance of a chemical test within three hours after the driving.

(e) Commencing July 1, 2018, it shall be unlawful for a person who has 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a motor vehicle when a passenger for hire is a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the offense. For purposes of this subdivision, “passenger for hire” means a passenger for whom consideration is contributed or expected as a condition of carriage in the vehicle, whether directly or indirectly flowing to the owner, operator, agent, or any other person having an interest in the vehicle. In a prosecution under this subdivision, it is a rebuttable presumption that the person had 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of driving the vehicle if the person had 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of the performance of a chemical test within three hours after the driving.

(f) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.

(g) It is unlawful for a person who is under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug to drive a vehicle.

(Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 765, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2017.)

 

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