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Dozens of new California traffic laws bring changes for drivers in 2024

SAN DIEGO (KSWB) — For California lawmakers, the start of the new year means a series of new bills will take effect, including more than a dozen new traffic safety laws impacting some 27 million drivers in the state.

Some of the laws signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom this year change how officers can interact with motorists during traffic stops, while others seek to implement new safety programs to address the problem of police deaths. pedestrians.

Here are some of the new laws coming into effect in 2024 that motorists should be aware of:

Assembly Bill 256 – Vehicles: Registration

Under this new law, a violation of the registration sticker affixed to a vehicle’s rear license plate can no longer be the only reason for an officer to stop a driver for enforcement action before the second month after the expiration of a vehicle’s registration.

AB 256, authored by Assembly Member Diane Dixon, aims to limit the ability of officers to make “pretext stops,” or stops that are used as an investigative tool for something that has no related to the actual reason a driver was stopped.

Lawmakers say this type of stop, which is used disproportionately against Black and Hispanic motorists, has been found to result in excessive costs to the driver or, in some cases, an unnecessary escalation to the use of force.

The law will take effect on July 1, 2024 and will remain in effect until January 1, 2030, unless amended that would delay its expiration date. Department of Motor Vehicles late registration fees and enforcement actions following the second month after the tag expires will still apply.

Assembly Bill 925 – Vehicle Removal: Expired Registration

Like AB 256, AB 925 changes guidance for traffic enforcement officers or officers when dealing with expired registration violations. Starting Jan. 1, the new law will require officials to check with the DMV if a vehicle does not have current registration before towing for tags that expired six months or more previously.

Introduced by Assemblyman Tri Ta, the law aims to raise the level of service of law enforcement officers in action for this type of technical traffic violation.

In a report, Ta said this was specifically to prevent the penalization of drivers whose stickers may have been stolen. It would also “avoid extreme hardship” for those who may not have the funds to recover their vehicle from an impound lot after an unnecessary tow.

Assembly Bill 645 – Vehicles: Speed ​​Safety System Pilot Program

AB 645 would allow the cities of Los Angeles, Oakland, San Jose, Glendale, Long Beach and San Francisco County to deploy a limited number of cameras in a five-year pilot program beginning in January 2024 to monitor and enforce speeding.

Under the bill, the program would focus on areas such as school zones, high-risk roadways for injuries and known street racing corridors in diverse geographic areas.

Drivers who speed in these areas will be subject to a civil penalty based on how many miles per hour they exceeded the speed limit.

Assembly Bill 413 – Vehicles: Stopping, Parking, and Parking

Effective January 1, AB 413 prohibits parking or stopping a vehicle along a sidewalk at least 20 feet from a marked crosswalk or 15 feet from a sidewalk where an extension is present . The regulation only applies to the side from which the vehicle approaches the pedestrian crossing.

According to the bill’s author, Assembly Member Alex Lee, the requirement will help increase visibility at intersections through a strategy to reduce pedestrian deaths called “daylighting.”

Before 2025, law enforcement would only be allowed to issue a warning for violations of this law and would be prohibited from issuing a citation unless the violation of the law occurs in an area marked with the law. using paint or a panel.

Assembly Bill 436 – Cruising

AB 436 ended a decades-long ban on lowrider cruises through California with the repeal of state vehicle code regulations that allowed local governments to implement restrictions directly targeting these types of cars.

This includes the regulation of cruising, which is when a vehicle drives “low and slow,” on streets, and the operation of vehicles that have been modified from their original design to make the body of the car closer to the ground than the bottom of the road. its rims.

Lowrider communities have long fought to repeal bans on this type of conduct that emerged in Chicano communities in Southern California after World War II.

The new law is expected to take effect on January 1, 2024 and will particularly affect municipalities – such as Los Angeles, Fresno and Santa Ana – where restrictions remain in effect.

Assembly Bill 2773 – Arrests: notification by peace officers

Under AB 2773, law enforcement officers will no longer be able to initiate a traffic stop by asking the question: “Do you know why I stopped you?” Rather, the officer must indicate the purpose of the check before asking any further questions. The same goes for interactions with a pedestrian.

According to the law, the only time officers can fail to specify the reason for their stop is if they deem it necessary “to protect life or property from an imminent threat.”

According to the bill’s author, Assembly Member Chris Holden, the new guidelines were created to reduce pretext stops and de-escalate interactions between police and civilians. This requirement will come into effect on January 1, 2024.

Assembly Bill 641 – Automobile dismantlers: catalytic converters

In response to a recent increase in catalytic converter thefts, AB 641 makes it a misdemeanor for unlicensed “auto dismantlers” – or people engaged in buying or selling vehicles for the purpose of dismantle them – to have nine or more catalytic converters. who have been cut off from a vehicle.

This new offense will come into force on January 1, 2024. According to the law, individuals and companies that have a legitimate purpose for possessing catalytic converters, such as repair shops, will be excluded from any sanctions.

Senate Bill 55 – Catalytic Converters

Another law aimed at combating catalytic converter theft, SB 55, will make it illegal to remove, modify or mask a vehicle identification number (VIN) from a catalytic converter. Persons will also be prohibited from knowingly owning three or more catalytic converters with altered VINs.

The bill’s author, Assembly Member Jasmeet Bains, says the new crimes would provide law enforcement with an additional tool to help pursue catalytic converter thieves and encourage drivers to ensure that this part of their vehicle has the appropriate markings.

“…drivers need to know that the cost of marking their catalytic converter is worth it and
will effectively deter theft,” Bains wrote in a report on the measure.

As of January 1, any violation of these provisions could be punished as a misdemeanor. According to the law, those who modify the catalytic converter to legally apply a new VIN or disassemble a vehicle in their rightful possession will be exempt from the new law.

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