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New laws for the roadways take effect in 2010

POSTED December 24, 2009 2:14 p.m.
Christmas may be over, but there are still a handful of gifts awaiting California drivers. Well, if you consider new laws to be gifts, at least.
On Jan. 1, 2010, a slew of new California laws will go into effect, intended to help finance transportation projects, improve safety for emergency vehicles and tow trucks, and crack down on DUI offenders.
“The new laws are designed to make our roadways a safe place for motorists,” said California Highway Patrol Commissioner Joe Farrow.  “Familiarize yourself with these laws and make 2010 a safe year for you and your loved ones.”
The new “Slow Down and Move Over” law requires drivers to — as one might guess — slow down and move out of the lane adjacent to emergency vehicles or tow trucks displaying emergency lights. An additional law requires drivers to follow the same practice when approaching Caltrans vehicles with flashing amber lights.
A new state agency, the California Transportation Financing Authority, will open on Jan. 1, 2010. The CTFA will fund transportation projects through bonds backed by toll proceeds. A second bill will likely raise toll fees on the Antioch and Dumbarton bridge to finance seismic retrofits.
Another new law will allow tolls to be collected by way of automatic license plate identification. The law also makes it illegal to enter a toll station without money to pay the tolls, an electronic toll payment device associated with a valid payment account, or a license plate associated with a toll payment account.
Those who watch television while driving have a new law to contend with as well, as beginning Jan. 1 any equipment capable of displaying a video signal must be configured so the driver cannot view the screen.
“As a driver, you want to be aware of the new rules of the road,” said Matt Skryja, AAA Northern California spokesperson. “ … You don’t want flashing lights in your rearview mirror to be your first clue that the rules have changed.”
For the cyclists in the community, a new law will allow bikers to ride a bicycle without a seat, if the bicycle was designed by the manufacturer to be ridden in that manner.
The state will look to crack down on DUI offenders under two new laws, both of which go into effect later this coming year on July 1, 2010. The first will require second-time misdemeanor DUI offenders, whose violations involved alcohol only, to obtain a restricted driver’s license after a 90-day suspension. Third-time offenders will be required to undergo a six-month suspension. Offenders will also be required to enroll in a DUI program, and to install and maintain an Ignition Interlock Device in their vehicles.
Such IIDs — essentially mobile breathalyzers, which must be used prior to starting a vehicle — will also be required of first time offenders in four California counties under a second law. The pilot program will require first time offenders in the counties of Alameda, Sacramento, Tulare and Los Angeles, whose offenses did not involve bodily injury, to install an IID for a mandatory five months. If bodily injury was involved, that mandatory period jumps to a year.
The above article contains only a portion of the new laws that will go into effect this year. For complete information on chaptered bills, enacted in 2009, please refer to the Legislative Counsel Web site at www.LegInfo.ca.gov.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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