Murder charges possible under new driving law
A new driving law that goes into effect January 1 can result in
murder related charges
if a fatality occurs as a result of driving under the influence
of drugs and alcohol.
Photo courtesy CurrentWorldNews.com
By Jeff Shuttleworth
December 28, 2007
AAA of Northern California says the rules of the road are changing
again and it wants motorists to be aware of several new laws that
will affect drivers in the coming year.
Some of the new regulations about to take effect are aimed at
improving safety, protecting children and defending the interests
AAA of Northern California spokesman Sean Comey said, "We're
trying to make sure drivers get fair warning about upcoming changes
that will affect them. You don't want flashing lights in your
rear view mirror to be your first clue that rules have changed."
Unless otherwise noted, the bills go into effect on January 1.
Under Assembly Bill 868, authored by Mike Davis, D-Los Angeles,
California will begin work on a study of the effects of fuel temperature
Liquids such as gasoline are less dense at higher temperatures,
which means consumers may receive less fuel than they have paid
for. AAA says it supports this research to reveal hidden costs
to consumers at the pump.
AB 808, authored by Assemblywoman Nicole Parra, D-Hanford, requires
applicants for a driver's license or license renewal to sign a
declaration that states if they drive under the influence of alcohol
or drugs and someone is killed as a result, they can be charged
AAA says it supported the legislation, which will now allow a
prosecutor the option to charge a first-time offender with second
degree murder in a fatal DUI case.
Senate Bill 67, authored by State Senate President Pro Tem Don
Perata, D-Oakland, and supported by AAA, broadens vehicle impound
laws to allow law enforcement to seize a vehicle when arresting
a driver for reckless driving, reckless driving in an off-street
parking area or exhibition of speed.
The bill is aimed at cracking down on illegal "sideshows,"
in which large groups of young people gather on city streets late
at night on weekends to watch drivers engage in stunts such as
speeding and spinning contests.
It re-enacts provisions of a 2002 bill that expired at the beginning
of 2007 because Oakland officials failed to document the law's
success before its five-year sunset provision took effect.
SB 33, authored by Senator Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, and supported
by AAA, prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from using a cell
phone, hand-held or hands-free, or any other mobile service device,
such as a BlackBerry, while driving. The bill doesn't go into
effect until July 1.
Beginning at the same time, under SB 1613, which was also authored
by Simitian and was signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at a
ceremony in Oakland on Sept. 15, 2006, drivers 18 and over must
use a hands-free device if they are using a cell phone while driving.
AB 645, authored by Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles, prohibits
courts from allowing persons charged with driving under the influence
or with a hit-and-run from attending traffic school.
AAA says it supported the legislation because attendance at traffic
school for those offenses results in masking a ticket that would
otherwise add two recordable points to the person's driving record.
AB 801, authored by Assemblywoman Mimi Walters R-Laguna Niguel,
and supported by AAA, prohibits the use of a device that would
impair the recognition of a license place by an electronic enforcement
device such as a red light camera or those at toll bridge booths.
SB 7, authored by Senator Jenny Oropeza, D-Long Beach, makes
it illegal to smoke cigarettes, a cigar or a pipe in a motor vehicle
where a minor is present. Violators can receive a fine of up to
$100 per person.
Under AB 1612, authored by Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara,
the Biennial Inspection of Terminals program requires a physical
inspection of hazardous material commercial vehicle terminals
and eliminates an administrative inspection.
AAA says it supported the legislation, which came in response
to an accident and subsequent fire caused by a commercial hazmat
driver and resulted in destruction of a portion of the MacArthur
Maze freeway section in the East Bay on April 29.
AB 118, authored by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles,
increases the annual vehicle registration fee and the smog impact
fee in order to provide revenue for research and development of
Consumers can expect to pay from $3 to $11 more when registering
their vehicles. This law is in effect from July 2008 through 2016.
SB 976, authored by Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, creates a San Francisco
Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority. AAA says it
supported the legislation, which will coordinate emergency activities
of all water transportation and related facilities within the
The California Department of Motor Vehicle took regulatory action
this year to authorize online Mature Driver Improvement (MDI)
courses. AAA has partnered with "I Drive Safely" to
offer an internet-based MDI course.
Those who take and pass the course are entitled to a discount
on AAA insurance.
AB 1581, authored by Assemblywoman Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield,
and supported by AAA, requires, to the extent feasible, placement
of traffic signals that detect motorcycles and bicycles at intersections.
AB 118, authored by Assembly Speaker Nunez, creates a program
to provide grants and loans to fund the research and development
of alternative fuels and for a new clean air program.
Owners of cars less than six years old would pay an additional
$8 for smog abatement fee and an additional $2 for registration.
Funding for the program would be derived from a variety of sources
with automobiles being the biggest source, contributing about
$150 million annually. This law is in effect from July 2008 through
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