New Traffic Consumer Laws Set to Ring in the New Year

California Department of Motor Vehicles
Media Relations Office
2415 First Avenue, MS F-122, Sacramento, CA 95818
Contact: DMV Media Relations

December 19, 2007

Sacramento—With 2008 right around the corner, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) reminds motorists of several new laws that will ring in the New Year. 

The most anticipated law, SB 1613  -- due to take effect July 1, 2008 -- prohibits drivers from using wireless telephones without a hands free device while driving.  In addition, motorists under the age of 18 will not be allowed to use a cell phone even with a hands free device.

During the 2007 legislative year, 964 bills were passed 750 were signed into law-including over 167 changes to the California Vehicle Code.  Many of the changes, regarding traffic safety, air quality and consumer protection take effect on Jan. 1, 2008 while others will take effect July1, 2008.

“Driver safety and consumer protection are very important to our 24 million licensed driver and identification card customers,” said DMV Director George Valverde.  “To keep our California drivers fully informed of the laws DMV maintains an updated version of the California Vehicle Code on our Web site as well as summaries of all new traffic-related laws.  Drivers can also view our 55 driver safety video clips on our YouTube Channel to brush up on the rules of the road.”

Following is an abbreviated summary of the new laws that will take effect Jan. 1, 2008, unless indicated otherwise. A more comprehensive list appears on the DMV Web site at

(Note: ‘AB’ denotes a bill that was originated in the California State Assembly, and ‘SB’ denotes a bill that originated in the California State Senate. The names after the bill numbers are the persons who authored the bills. All of the bills have been signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger.)


  • Wireless telephones (SB 1613/Simitian) Prohibits the use of wireless telephones while driving, unless the telephone is designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking operation, and is used in that manner while driving. Base fine for a first offense: $20, and $50 for each subsequent offense. The law provides an exemption for emergency purposes.
  • Wireless telephones, under 18 (SB 33/Simitian) A person under the age of 18 is prohibited from operating a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone, even when equipped with a hands-free device, or while using a mobile service device.  The law provides an exemption for emergency purposes.
  • Bicycle safety (AB 478/Wolk) A person operating a bicycle during darkness is required to utilize illumination devices while riding upon a highway, a sidewalk, or a bikeway.
  • Traffic violation dismissals (AB 645/Feuer/Leno)  The courts are prohibited from dismissing serious traffic violations, such as driving under the influence, hit and run, or reckless driving, through completion of traffic violator school or any other court-approved program of driving safety.
  • License plate coating (AB 801/Walters/Solorio) The use or sale of a product (spray coating) that would impair the reading or recognition of a license plate by an electronic device, such as a red light camera is prohibited.
  • Driver responsibility (AB 808/Parra/Spitzer) This law requires applicants for a driver’s license renewal to sign a declaration acknowledging that being under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs impairs the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.


  • Restitution for victims (SB 525/Lowenthal)  Authorizes the DMV to order restitution to victims who have suffered financial loss or damage by a vehicle dealer, manufacturer, distributor or transporter.  The law allows restitution when the occupational license is suspended or revoked.
  • Consumer recovery fund (AB729/Padilla) This law creates a special fund to compensate consumers who have suffered monetary losses as the result of a vehicle dealership closure or insolvency. Funded by a $1 fee collected by DMV on all vehicles sold by a dealer or lessor/retailer.


  • Minor passengers smoking ban (SB 7/Oropeza) This law prohibits anyone from smoking in a vehicle where minors are present, regardless if the vehicle is in motion or at rest.  Law enforcement cannot stop a vehicle solely to determine whether a violation has occurred.
  • Air quality fees (AB 118/Nunez) The smog abatement fee, the vehicle registration fee, the vessel registration fee and the identification plate fee will be increased, effective July 1.  Additional revenues collected will be used to fund a variety of fuel and vehicle technology projects through the Bureau of Automotive Repair, the California Air Resources Board and the California Energy Commission.
  • Reduction in diesel emissions (AB 233/Jones) The Healthy Heart and Lung Act will be established as a means to reduce diesel emissions and prohibits the registration, renewal of registration or transfer of ownership of a heavy-duty diesel vehicle if the vehicle owner or operator has an outstanding emissions-related citation.

Don’t Stand In Line, Go Online! Doing business with the DMV has never been easier. The DMV offers an array of services to customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through its Web site (, including online appointments for written and drive tests; vehicle registration and driver license renewals, selection of personalized license plates, changes of address and payment of fees via secure debit transactions.

DMV is a department under the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, which is under the direction of Secretary Dale E. Bonner. The DMV licenses drivers; maintains driving records; registers and tracks official ownership of vehicles and vessels; investigates auto and identity-related fraud; and licenses car dealers, driving schools, and traffic violator schools.



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