10.5 – New 2012 and 2013 Laws

Effective January 1, 2012

HOV Lanes/Green Stickers

Green clean air vehicle stickers pending federal approval will be available as of Jan. 1, 2012 and will be valid through Jan. 1, 2015 to the first 40,000 applicants that purchase or lease vehicles meeting California’s enhanced advanced technology partial zero emission vehicle requirements. 2011 legislation approved the green sticker for plug-in hybrid vehicles in California. The law also extended the sunset date for the white stickers issued to fully electric and compressed natural gas vehicles until Jan. 1, 2015. (SB 535, Yee)

Electric Vehicles (EV) must now be plugged in for refueling when occupying an EV designated parking space, otherwise they may be towed. In addition, the law prohibits a person from obstructing, blocking or otherwise barring access to an EV-designated parking space. (AB 475, Butler)

Driving Under the Influence

Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, courts can order a 10-year driver license revocation of any California motorist convicted of a third or subsequent DUI violation, with possible reinstatement after five years if specified conditions are met. (AB 1601, Hill)

National Database Check for Vehicle Sales

This law requires all vehicles offered for sale in California to be checked against the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) database to disclose past vehicle damage such as flooding or severe collisions. New vehicle dealers will also be electronically transmitting information to the DMV, ensuring faster delivery of registration documents and license plates to customers. The new law took effect July 1, 2012. (AB 1215, Blumenfield)

Child Passenger Safety Seats

A change to California’s Child Passenger Safety Seat law will now require children to ride in either a car seat or booster seat until the age of eight, or until they reach a height of 4 feet 9 inches. This law also requires children who do not meet the age or height requirement to ride in the rear seat of a vehicle unless the vehicle has no back seats, the restraint system cannot be properly installed or the rear seats are already occupied by children under age eight. However, the law still maintains that a child may not ride in the front seat of a vehicle with an active passenger airbag if they are under one year of age, less than 20 pounds, or riding in a rear-facing child safety seat. (SB 929, Evans)

Sobriety checkpoints

Drivers are required to stop and submit to a sobriety checkpoint. However, peace officers will be prohibited from impounding a vehicle for 30 days out of a sobriety checkpoint if the only offense by the driver is failing to hold a valid driver license. The new law requires that the officer make a reasonable attempt to identify the registered owner in order to release the vehicle. (AB 353, Cedillo)

Reckless Driving

Anyone who is convicted of reckless driving under Section 23103.5 of the Vehicle Code can apply for a restricted driver license prior to the completion of their one-year suspension, provided they meet specified conditions, including the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device in their vehicle. (AB 520, Ammiano)

Effective January 1, 2013

Driving Under the Influence

Drivers suspected of driving under the influence of drugs will no longer have the option to choose a chemical test of their urine to determine drug content. By requiring a blood test, with a few exceptions, AB 2020 will help law enforcement and prosecutors to better identify and convict persons driving under the influence of drugs. If a blood test is unavailable, then the person is deemed to have given his or her consent to a urine test. (AB 2020/Pan)

California Legacy License Plates

Effective January 1, 2013, DMV will accept applications for a series of three specialized license plates that replicate plates from California’s past. Motorists will be able to choose from a minimum of three styles: yellow background with black lettering, black background with yellow lettering, and blue background with yellow lettering. (AB 1658/Gatto)

“Buy-Here-Pay-Here” Car Dealers

Two new laws are directed at used car dealers that assign less than 90 percent of their conditional sales and lease contracts to third party lenders; and therefore provide direct financing to car buyers. One of the new laws defines these used car dealers as “buy-here-pay-here” dealers.

  • AB 1447 further prohibits these dealers from requiring buyers to make payments in person, except for the down payment, and limits the circumstances under which “buy-here-pay-here” dealers may track a vehicle using electronic tracking technology (GPS tracking). “Buy-here-pay-here” used car dealers will not be allowed to disable a vehicle with starter interrupt technology without first notifying the buyer in writing at the time of sale. In addition, “buy-here-pay here” used car dealers will be required to provide a 30-day or 1,000 mile warranty as part of any purchase or lease of a used vehicle. (AB 1447/Feuer)
  • AB 1534 requires “buy-here-pay-here” used car dealers to affix and prominently display a label on any used vehicle offered for retail sale that provides the reasonable market value of the vehicle. The label must contain specific information from a recognized pricing guide used to determine that value and the date the value was determined. The prospective purchaser must also be provided with a copy of the information that the dealer used to determine the vehicle’s value. (AB 1534/Wieckowski)

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