New California Traffic Laws for 2022

California AB-3
In October of 2021, the governor of California signed AB 3 into law. This bill, commonly referred to as the “exhibition of speed on a highway punishment bill” amends the current state code to make the sentencing terms applicable to this offense much more severe. If you are interested in the details of this new California traffic law and how it applies to a particular situation, it is recommended that you contact a personal injury lawyer who understands California laws.

The highly qualified team at the Cohen Injury Law Group is available to answer questions of how this and the subsequent laws discussed in this post, may affect you and your particular situation.

Under the current law, if someone either engages in an exhibition of speed on a highway/freeway or they aid/abet such an exhibition, they risk a term of imprisonment in a county jail for a maximum of 90 days, a fine of up to $500, or both of these sentencing terms. AB 3 underscores the seriousness of speed exhibition offenses by increasing the possible sentencing terms following a conviction significantly.

Under the new bill, anyone convicted of this offense (as of July 1, 2025 or later) could also have their driving privileges suspended for between 90 days and six months. Why was this such an urgent amendment that it was introduced so early in the legislative session and signed by the governor without delay? As an experienced personal injury lawyer, such as those who practice at Cohen Injury Law Group can confirm, speed exhibitions are exceedingly dangerous. They can lead to catastrophic and even fatal injuries to both those involved and bystanders alike.

The punishment for such behavior needed to be increased to underscore the necessity of curtailing this particular behavior on California’s heavily trafficked highways and freeways. Even those that are rarely traveled can become the sites of injurious or fatal accidents when motorists decide to engage in a little thrill seeking at the expense of the safety of those around them.

California SB-287
In the Autumn of 2021, the governor of California signed Senate Bill 287 into law. This law primarily concerns the ability of Class C driver’s license holders to tow trailers of a specific weight. While this narrowly tailored law may seem to only affect those select few who hold Class C driver’s licenses, it is of broad concern to all travelers whether they know about the law or not. As a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer such as one on the team of highly qualified lawyers at Cohen Injury Law Group can confirm, travelers should know and understand that Class C driver’s license holders operate vehicles that are more likely to cause harm than an average light passenger vehicle is. By refining the limits of what these drivers can and cannot operate and tow, all travelers in California are arguably made more or less safe.

Horse trailer owners were among the most vocal in supporting the passage of SB-287. Under existing law, a Class C driver’s license holder, generally had to secure a restricted class A driver’s license when driving a two-axle vehicle weighing 4,000 pounds or more unladen, or when towing a trailer coach exceeding 10,000 pounds, or a 5th-wheel travel trailer exceeding 15,000 pounds. Under the new law, Class C driver’s license holders can tow between 10,000-15,000 pounds. The current law makes towing significant weight less restrictive for Class C driver’s license holders, provided that they’ve passed a specialized written examination. The new provisions of this bill will not go into effect until 2027.

California AB-47
The provisions of California AB-47 went into effect on July 1, 2021. This bill modified the state’s existing law concerning distracted driving. In California, speaking on a cellphone while driving is prohibited unless a driver has enabled hands-free talk-and-listen technology when using one. Using a handheld device is also prohibited unless it is being used in a hands-free way while driving. Under existing law, any violations of this provision of the California Code result in points deducted from an offender’s driving record. Traffic violations also result in points taken off a driver’s record.

The new bill limits the scope of time during which an electronic device violation may be used as evidence of a prior conviction for the same offense resulting in a violation point deduction from a driver’s record. Specifically, only those convictions that occur within a 36-month period immediately before any subsequent convictions may be used as evidence of a prior conviction.

While this may serve as welcome news for drivers who are prone to engaging in distracted behaviors, it is not necessarily welcome news for the many responsible drivers, cyclists and pedestrians of California who might get hurt by a distracted driver who did not suffer severe enough consequences from a previous offense. As any experienced personal injury lawyer will likely confirm, distracted driving causes an irreparable amount of harm to travelers each and every day. Minimizing the consequences for engaging in distracted driving behavior arguably makes California travelers less safe overall.

If you have questions about an accident that you or someone you love was injured in while on one of the many roads of California that falls under the new California traffic laws for 2022, contact the highly rated team at Cohen Injury Law Group for a free case consultation and evaluation.

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