New Laws Affecting California Drivers in 2023
California passed several new laws that came into effect in January 2023 regarding vehicle protection, pedestrian safety, and other transportation-related issues in the state. These laws affect drivers who share the road with pedestrians and bicyclists while promoting safety on the road.
Explore the new statutes and how they will affect California’s drivers in 2023.
Consumer Notices for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems
Senate Bill (SB) 1398 aims to protect motorists who purchase cars with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). Car manufacturers and dealers must clearly state new vehicle functionality, capabilities, and limitations with driver assistance features in a consumer’s notice. The law also says manufacturers cannot use deceptive marketing when naming and referring to the features.
With enhanced information, motorists will better understand the capabilities of these vehicles, reducing crashes and injuries due to overreliance on the ADAS or improper vehicle operation. If a manufacturer does not follow the new law, they may be liable for damages that result in a collision.
Enhanced Safeguards for Bicyclists
Assembly Bill (AB) 1909 amends several laws regarding the rights of bicyclists on roads and public areas. It helps drivers and bicyclists share the road safely and expands electric bicycle access. The four changes in the bill include the following:
- Before passing or overtaking a cyclist, California Vehicle Code § 16708 requires drivers to move into an adjacent traffic lane if one is available. This law expands upon the current law that drivers must give cyclists three feet of space when passing. Drivers may slow down and pass the bicyclist when it is safe on roads with no lanes.
- California Vehicle Code § 21207.5 allows electric bikes access to bikeways, bike lanes, and approved bike paths and trails. It enables local authorities and the Department of Parks and Recreation to prohibit them from equestrian and hiking trails.
- Under California Vehicle Code § 21546.2, cyclists have the right to cross street crossings on pedestrian walk signals starting on January 1, 2024. If a crossing light includes bicycle signals, bicyclists must obey them to go across the street.
- California Vehicle Code § 39002 makes it illegal for cities and towns to prevent unlicensed cyclists from riding bicycles.
Prevention of Catalytic Converter Thefts
Car catalytic converters have become targets for theft in California due to the increased price of precious metals such as palladium and platinum. According to the Justice Department, 37% of nationwide claims for the thefts of catalytic converters are from California. SB 1087 and AB 1740 amend California Vehicle Code § 21610 to protect California drivers and their vehicles from catalytic converter thefts.
Core recyclers must record the vehicle’s year, make, and model when removing a catalytic converter under AB 1740. It prevents a core recycler from buying a catalytic converter from anyone other than a business or a vehicle owner. The bill requires an agreement detailing every catalytic converter for identification when matching them in the core recycler’s inventory.
Under SB 1087, people and core recyclers must only buy used catalytic converters from car dismantlers, repair dealers, and individuals who can prove they own the converters with documentation. It prohibits the purchase of catalytic converters from sellers other than those listed in the bill.
Statutory Changes To Limited-Time Demand Letters
SB 1155 went into effect on January 1, 2023. The bill changes requirements surrounding demand letters sent by those bringing claims against an insurer for property damage, bodily injury, or wrongful death. It affects time-limited demand letters, which are sent to the insurance company to settle a claim before arbitration. These letters must be accepted within a specific time period; however current law does not give insurers enough time to respond and investigate appropriately.
The bill makes to the California Code of Civil Procedure section 999-999.5 regarding demand letter requirements:
- Demand letter must be written and labeled as a time-limited demand
- Give at least 30 days (if sent by email) and 33 days (if sent by mail)
- Include an unequivocal settlement offer within policy limits
- Offer release of liability from all present and future liability
- Include the location and date of the damage
- Describe all known injuries
- Provide reasonable proof of the damages along with supporting documentation
SB1155 also allows the insurer to seek clarification or additional information regarding the case.
Ban on Racing and Car Exhibitions in Off-Street Facilities
California Vehicle Code § 23109 criminalizes motor vehicle speed contests on highways, the exhibition of speed on streets, or aiding and abetting vehicle racing activities.
AB 2000 amends the law to make it a crime for drivers to participate in a racing contest or car exhibitions in an off-street parking facility or to aid or abet in such an act. Starting on January 1, 2025, AB 3 allows the courts and the Department of Vehicles to suspend or restrict a driver’s license for 90 days to 6 months for people who violate this ban.
No Fines for Jaywalking
The Freedom to Walk Act or AB 1238 allows Californians to jaywalk on streets and highways when they are reasonably safe from other vehicles. However, the act states that pedestrians must refrain from jaywalking if there is an immediate hazard, such as when a car is approaching so closely or fast that a reasonably careful person would realize a collision is dangerous.
Police officers cannot fine pedestrians for violating specific jaywalking laws. For instance, California Vehicle Code § 21451 states pedestrians may cross a road but must yield to a vehicle entering the intersection when the green light appears. The law now prohibits officers from giving citations to pedestrians if they violate it unless they believe a pedestrian’s actions would cause an immediate collision.
It also requires annual reports from the California Highway Patrol to measure the impact of the Freedom to Walk Act on pedestrian traffic accidents and their effects on traffic safety.
New Video for Handling Traffic and Pedestrian Stops
AB 2537 requires the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to create and post an educational video on its website about proper conduct for law enforcement and drivers during traffic stops in collaboration with the Department of Justice and the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training.
Educators must include this video for students and new drivers in their driver education materials. The DMV must inform drivers who renew or receive their driver’s licenses that they can watch the video on the website.
What The Shirvanian Law Firm Can Do for You
These new laws affect the rights of California drivers and pedestrians, providing protections and clarification on existing statutes. However, you may need guidance to understand how the laws affect your rights if an accident occurs.
The Shirvanian Law Firm helps people injured in auto accidents understand their options under the new California statutes. We will investigate the crash to determine what caused the accident and help you negotiate with the responsible party’s insurance company for a fair settlement.
Contact The Shirvanian Law Firm to book a free consultation to discuss your legal options. We work on a contingency fee arrangement, so you only pay if we win your case.