CHP highlights California’s new traffic laws for 2021

California

With the new year just over a week away, the California Highway Patrol on Wednesday sought to highlight some of the traffic laws that will take effect in 2021.

The new laws include liability exemptions for rescuing unattended children from motor vehicles and license points for repeat distracted driving infractions, according to a CHP news release.

Going into effect on Jan. 1:

Assembly Bill 2717: This law exempts anyone who rescues an endangered child left in an unattended vehicle from criminal or civil liability for trespassing or car damage, provided certain steps are taken. The circumstances where this applies is when a child under the age of 7 has been left unattended in a vehicle under dangerous conditions “that reasonably could cause suffering, disability, or death,” such as the heat or cold, or a lack of ventilation, the bill reads. The steps that should be taken include: calling 911; ensuring the vehicle is locked and there is no other way to enter the car without forced entry; and having a “good faith belief” that rescuing the child is necessary due to imminent potential harm.

Assembly Bill 2285: The state’s “Move Over, Slow Down” law, which is currently in place only on freeways, will be extended to apply to local streets and roads as well under this new measure. The law says any motorists approaching a stopped emergency vehicle flashing its lights must proceed with caution, moving over to another lane if possible or slowing down. Emergency vehicles include first responder vehicles, as well as tow trucks and Caltrans vehicles, according to CHP.

Going into effect on July 1:

Assembly Bill 47: While it’s already illegal to use a handheld cell while driving in California, this new measure adds a point to the driver’s record of anyone who violates the hands-free law for a second time within 36 months of a prior conviction. A violation includes talking or texting while holding the device and driving, and any use of smartphone devices by a driver under the age of 18.

Already in effect:

The CHP also pointed out in its news release one law that went into effect on Sept. 29 of this year.

Senate Bill 909: Authorized emergency vehicles can now use a “HI-Lo” warning sound to notify the public of evacuations in the event of an emergency. CHP is currently developing statewide regulations for the the “Hi-Lo” warning sound, which is distinctive and sounds different than a traditional siren. But until those regulations are adopted, law enforcement agencies can use the sound, provided they obtain a permit from the Highway Patrol. To help first responders prepare for natural disasters and other large-scale emergencies, the legislation took effect the same day it was approved by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

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