Texting just one of the new Vehicle Code regulations that go into effect Jan. 1, 2009.
With 2009 right around the corner, the Department of Motor Vehicles
(DMV) reminds motorists of several new laws that will ring in the New Year.
Among the new laws is AB 2241, limits the issuance of temporary operating permits to those individuals whose
vehicles have yet to pass a smog check.
The law calls for a $50 fee for one 60-day temporary operating permit only if
the vehicle has been tested at a smog station and failed.
“This new law ensures that vehicles on our highways are properly registered and
maintained,” said DMV Director George Valverde. “We also support efforts to
reduce emissions which keep Californians healthy.”
In the past, owners were able to secure a temporary operating permit for 60 days
or more if, after paying their renewal fees on time, they were unable to get a
smog certificate for any reason. The continued operation of vehicles that have
requirements is estimated to be emitting one to two tons per day of
oxides of nitrogen.
Another law that will take effect in 2009 is SB 28, which coincides with the
cell phone law of 2007 and prohibits text messaging with a cell phone or other
text-based communications while driving a vehicle.
In all, 1,187 bills were passed and 772 were signed into law
– including more than 80 changes to the Vehicle Code during the 2008
legislative year. Some of the other changes include fee increases to improve
air quality, DUI penalties, and a new special interest license plate take
effect on Jan. 1, 2009
Following is an abbreviated summary of the new laws that will take effect Jan.
1, 2009, unless indicated otherwise. A more comprehensive list appears on the
DMV Web site at www.dmv.ca.gov 
Unlicensed Car Dealers (AB 2042/Fuentes) This new law allows law enforcement
officers to impound vehicles that are being sold by unlicensed dealers.
Counterfeit Clean Air Stickers (SB 1720/Lowenthal) This new law will make it a
crime to forge, counterfeit, or falsify a Clean Air Sticker. These stickers are
currently issued by DMV to certain low emission vehicles and permit vehicles
with these stickers to be driven in the HOV lane.
Text Messaging (SB 28/Simitian) This new law makes it an infraction to write,
send, or read text-based communication on an electronic wireless communication
device, such as a cell phone, while driving.
DUI Probation License Suspension (AB 1165 Maze) A change in the driving under
the influence (DUI) law creates a new authority for DMV to administratively
suspend the driver’s license for one year under a zero tolerance standard. The
new law authorizes law enforcement to issue a notice of suspension and impound
the vehicle of a person who is driving with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC)
of 0.01 percent or greater while on court-ordered post-DUI probation.
Temporary Operating Permits (AB2241/Saldana) This law restricts the DMV from
issuing temporary operating permits to allow more time to obtain a smog
certificate as part of the registration renewal process. Under the law,
extensions will cost $50 and are only allowed if the vehicle has been tested at
a smog station and failed. The extension can be for no more than 60 days from
the date registration is due. The $50 fee will be waived for owners accepted
into the Bureau of Automotive Repair Consumer Assistance Program (CAP).
New Special Interest Plate (SB 1455/Cogdill) A new “Gold Star Family” special
interest license will be available to family members of individuals killed in
the line of duty while serving in the Armed Forces during wartime or military
Motorcycle Definition (AB 2272/Fuentes) This new law changes the definition of
a motorcycle, deleting the existing weight limitation of 1500 pounds. It also
removes a separate definition for electrically-powered vehicles. This change in
law will also allow
drivers of fully-enclosed 3-wheeled motor vehicles to use the High Occupancy
Vehicle (HOV) lanes.
To easily access the California Vehicle Code for further information, log on to
the DMV website at www.dmv.ca.gov  and click on the “Publications” button in the
upper left hand corner of the home page. The DMV driver handbook is also on the
web at the same location. The 2009 version of the handbook will be published
for distribution to all 169 DMV field officers shortly after the first of the