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Get Up to Speed on New Driving Laws for 2013



On New Year’s Day, new traffic laws went into effect around the country. While many of these changes took place quietly and without much fanfare, drivers are still responsible for knowing and abiding by the new laws.

Before January is too far gone, let’s take a closer look at some of these new laws that are already affecting our driving!

California

Broken Parking Meters

  • Found a parking spot, but the meter is broken? Now drivers can park at broken meters up to the posted time limit without worrying about getting a ticket. But watch out for signs stating other parking restrictions, for example prohibiting parking on certain days of the week or during specific hours to accommodate commute traffic or street cleaning. (Mercury News)

Proof of Insurance on Your Smartphone

  • You can now use your smartphone or tablet to display your proof of insurance when you are pulled over by a law enforcement officer. But remember to come to a complete stop in a safe place before pulling out your phone, because California law enforcement agencies are continuing to stringently enforce laws against distracted driving! (Mercury News)

Use Clean Air Vehicles in Carpool Lanes

  • Here’s one more reason for California drivers to think about switching to an alternative energy vehicle - the Choose Clean Cars Act allows qualifying vehicles to use High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) or “carpool” lanes, even with only one person in the vehicle. (DMV)
  • To take advantage of this new law, you will need to apply for a white or green Clean Air Vehicle (CAV) sticker. To find out which alternative fuel vehicles qualify, visit the California Air Resources Board website. Then follow the instructions on the DMV Clean Air Vehicle page to submit your application.
  • Remember that the yellow stickers for hybrid vehicles are no longer valid. Vehicles displaying yellow stickers now need to meet the minimum passenger requirements to use carpool lanes.

Florida

Flashing Headlights

  • In response to a vehicle code ambiguity that had resulted in tickets being issued to drivers for flashing their high-beam headlights to warn oncoming cars of a law enforcement presence on the roadway ahead, Florida recently amended the code to allow headlight flashing “regardless of intent.” (Herald-Tribune)
  • However, this issue may still need further clarification - critics of the law are concerned that police can still use other parts of the vehicle code, specifically prohibitions against using high beam headlights too close to other vehicles, to write tickets for this behavior. (Herald-Tribune)

Illinois

Motorcycles

  • Many states include riding a motorcycle on only one wheel or “popping a wheelie” under their reckless driving laws, but Illinois motorcyclists are now subject to a law specifically prohibiting wheelies. The new law also prohibits handlebars that reach higher than the rider’s head, imposes hefty fines, and includes jail time as a possible punishment for multiple offenses. (Bike Bandit)(Kane County Chronicle)

West Virginia

Distracted Driving

  • On July 1, 2013, West Virginia’s primary ban on handheld cell phone use while driving will go into effect. (Consumer Reports)
  • This means that if officers see you using your handheld phone while driving in West Virginia, they can pull you over and write you a ticket - even if that is your only offense!

Once you are up to date on your home state’s traffic laws, start thinking about your summer travel plans! If you are planning a road trip this summer, make sure to review any new laws in the states you’ll be driving through.

To help travelers review unfamiliar laws, AAA provides an interactive Digest of Motor Laws online. To use the digest, just click on the state you’d like to read about. You can also choose from the “Select a Law” menu to compare specific laws between states.

Are there any recent traffic laws in your home state that you think other drivers or visitors to your state should be aware of? Let us know in a comment!

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