New laws passed in Sacramento will have several impacts on roads this year and drivers are encouraged to learn the new rules before they get an avoidable ticket.

According to the California Highway Patrol, drivers will face an additional penalty for using a cell phone while driving.

“Current law prohibits a person from driving a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone in a handheld manner; if found in violation, the offense is punishable by a fine,” said CHP Director of Communications Fran Clader. “However, beginning July 1, 2021, this new law will levy an additional penalty on a driver found in violation of California’s hands-free law:  a point will be added on to a driver’s record for each hands-free violation occurring within 36 months of a prior conviction for the same offense.”

A pair of new rules modify the use of deadly force for police officers. Under current rules, the use of deadly force by a peace officer is justifiable when the officer reasonably believes it is necessary. Section 835a of the Penal Code amends the reasonable force standard to “objectively reasonable force.” A corresponding rule requires law enforcement agencies to rewrite use of force policy and provide mandatory training to all officers in order to comply with the new law.

A new law by Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) allows bicycles to travel straight through a right or left-hand turn-only lane while at an intersection, if an official traffic control device indicates the movement is permitted. The rule means bicycle riders will not have to merge left when the bike lane becomes a right turn lane.

“AB 1266 bill will make our roadways safer for everyone by matching street design with the already practiced, safe behavior of cyclists at busy intersections. I’m committed to making sure Californians have safe, healthy, and non-polluting transportation choices as we expand our efforts to combat climate change,” said Assemblymember Robert Rivas

Caltrans is required to develop standards for lane striping, pavement marking, and appropriate regulatory signs to implement this bill.

An omnibus bill made several changes to road rules including allowing motor carriers of property can continue operating for 30 days past their permit expiration date, under specified circumstances.

This legislation also expands prohibitions on the consumption of cannabis, in any manner, by passengers in a bus, taxicab, pedicab, limousine, housecars, or camper.  This exemption is now only applicable to alcoholic beverages consumed by passengers in these types of vehicles.

Perhaps the most misunderstood rules change impacts animal carcasses on the roadside.

A new rule has directed the Fish and Game Commission, in consultation with the CHP and other stakeholders, to establish a wildlife salvage pilot program authorizing the issuance of a permit for the removal and recovery of deer, elk, pronghorn antelope, and wild pigs killed because of a collision with a vehicle, if the wild game meat is used for human consumption. The rule has not made it legal to take or consume roadkill and drivers cannot take animals from the road until the permit process is in place.

Starting October 1, 2020, any individual who plans to fly within the United States or access federally secure facilities and military bases will be required to have a REAL ID or other federally approved document, such as a U.S. passport.

Californians applying for a REAL ID are required to visit a DMV field office with the following items: an identity document, such as a valid passport or original birth certificate (if you’ve changed your name, legal name change document(s) might be required). A document with the entire Social Security number visible, such as an original Social Security card or W-2 form. Two hard copy documents showing California residency, such as a utility or cell phone bill, bank statement, or mortgage bill.

“With the October 2020 REAL ID federal enforcement date in sight, we hope Californians will make a resolution to be #REALIDready so they are able to fly domestically,” DMV Director Steve Gordon said. “Anyone who shows up at the airport this October without the correct ID risks being turned away. We urge Californians to beat the anticipated last-minute rush and take care of their REAL ID needs today.”

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