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New Traffic Laws for 2006

by the Social Diary Safety Educator Columnist Monica Zech
Column #4, January 21st, 2006

New laws come about due to recurring problems - especially in traffic. Are you aware of the news traffic laws for 2006? The Automobile Club has put together a list of several of new laws you should be aware of. Among these laws - new penalties for drunk drivers, street racers, and "pocket bike" riders - along with improvements to California's teen driving requirements (graduated licensing). Again, these laws are designed to improve safety for motorists by increasing penalties for unsafe driving behavior according to Auto Club officials. ( Safety Educator Monica Zech)
These laws include:
Drunk Driving Penalties

SB 597 extends from seven years to 10 years the time period an individual is ineligible for a good-driver discount following a conviction for drunk driving. This change is consistent with the change made in 2005 by SB 1694, which required all DUI convictions to remain on a violator's record for 10 years instead of seven.
Two other new laws improve law enforcement's ability to impound drunk drivers' vehicles. SB 207 authorizes an officer to impound the vehicle of a person with a prior DUI conviction arrested for a suspected DUI if the person has a blood alcohol level of at least 0.10 percent or if the person refuses a chemical test. AB 979 authorizes an officer to impound the vehicle of a motorist violating a requirement to drive only a vehicle equipped with a functioning, certified ignition interlock device.
Graduated Driver Licensing Law Strengthened
AB 1474 strengthens the existing teen licensing law by requiring teen motorists to have their license for one year before being allowed to drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., or before being allowed to transport young passengers without an adult in the car. Even teens who have gotten their licenses before Jan. 1 will have to follow the new law if their licenses are less than one year old.
Under the previous teen driving law, motorists under age 18 were prohibited from driving between midnight and 5 a.m. for one year after being licensed, and could not transport young passengers without an adult in the car for the first six months after obtaining a license.
In 1997, the Auto Club sponsored California's graduated driver licensing law. Its purpose was to reduce the number of teen deaths and injuries in car crashes, and it worked: In the two years following the law's implementation, at-fault crashes involving 16-year-old drivers dropped 24 percent, and the number of teen-passenger deaths and injuries from crashes involving 16-year-old drivers declined 40 percent. Still, nearly 40,000 teen drivers and passengers in California died or were injured in car crashes in 2004, and car crashes remain the leading cause of death in the state for teens ages 15-20.
Street Racing
AB 1325 establishes a jail term of 30 days to six months for persons found guilty of engaging in motor-vehicle speed contests if the driver causes bodily injury to someone other than himself or herself.
Pocket Bikes
AB 1051 provides a definition of a pocket bike and requires the manufacturer to let prospective buyers know, in writing, where one may not be operated. Pocket bikes, which are miniature motorcycles, are illegal to ride on public streets. Additionally, the new law specifies that pocket bikes seized by law enforcement will be held for a minimum of 48 hours and will be released only after appropriate fees have been paid.
The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest affiliate of the AAA, has been serving members since 1900. For more information on these new laws check the Auto Club web site at www.aaa.com.

*Please obey traffic laws made for our safety, buckle-up, slow down and be 100% alert behind the wheel. By the way, I offer safe driving lectures to groups and companies. I give you a perspective from the emergency agency side of things - a look that is both professional and personal. I especially deal with aggressive driving and how to deal with the stress of driving and the road rage factor. Call me if you're interested in safer ride. Monica Zech Safety Educator - 619-441-1737.

For additional fire safety information visit www.nfpa.org orEl Cajon Fire.com or for fire safety lecture contact me at (619) 441-1615.

* Monica Zech is the Public Information Officer and Safety Educator for the City of El Cajon and for El Cajon Police and Fire Departments. For safety tips please visit El Cajon Fire.com In community work, Zech is the Vice President on the board for the Trauma Research Education Foundation-TREF and a board member with Communities Against Substance Abuse-CASA. In March, Monica received the County's 2005 Individual Health Champion Award for her safety lectures in the community and throughout the county. Zech's Web Site


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