If you have a California driver's license, you should know all the rules of the road. But here are five California traffic laws that just might surprise you.
- There are different rules for drivers under 18.
You may already know that California drivers may use the speakerphone function on their cellular telephone with a Bluetooth or other earpiece. However, you might not be aware of a new rule prohibiting drivers younger than 18 years old from using a wireless telephone or any other electronic mobile device to speak or text while driving, even using a hands-free headset. The only exception to this rule is to call 911 in emergency situations.
- You can't smoke in a vehicle with a minor.
Since 2008, it has been illegal to smoke a pipe, cigar, or cigarette in a vehicle when a minor is present. The police can't pull you over simply for smoking. However, if you get stopped for another traffic violation, you can be fined an extra $100 in addition to the fines for any other infractions.
- It is illegal to leave children or pets in a vehicle unattended.
You probably already know that this is not a good idea. However, you may not be aware of the specifics of this law. In California, it is illegal to leave a child 6 years old or younger unattended in a vehicle without the supervision of someone at least 12 years old if:
- conditions present a significant risk to a child's health or safety;
- the keys are in the ignition; or
- the engine is running.
If you violate this law, you may be required to pay a fine and/or attend a community education program. If the child or animal suffers injuries or death, there will be more severe criminal penalties.
- Passengers can get ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt.
Not only can driver's get ticketed, but any passenger in a vehicle who is at least 16 years old can be cited for failing to comply with the California seat belt law. Fines range from $20 for the first offense to $50 for any subsequent violations.
- You can now use GPS and other map applications while driving.
As of February 2014, California case law permits the use of a cell phone's GPS or other map feature without a hands-free device while driving.
If you have been cited for a California traffic infraction, contact us for legal assistance.