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California drivers subject to new laws starting in 2013

With the holiday season coming to a close and the New Year right around the corner, California drivers are wrapping up a busy time of road trips and shopping runs. However, what many San Francisco residents may not know is that a massive swath of new laws will take effect starting in 2013; many of which will impact the legal side of driving.

The full list of new laws can be seen at our source article, but let’s tackle the most pressing laws. First, a new law will actually take away options for drivers — specifically drivers accused of driving under the influence. Currently a DUI driver can take a urine or drug test to measure the amount of alcohol (or other substance) in the person’s body. When the new law kicks in, though, the DUI driver will only have the choice of a blood test.

Another law permits the use of hands-free technology for drivers, allowing them to text or make a phone call while they are behind the wheel. This could be a major development given the prevalence of texting while driving accidents across California, even though the state bans the act. Even while using hands-free technology, drivers still take a portion of their concentration off the road. They could still be considered distracted drivers if they cause an accident.

Last but not least, California lawmakers added a provision regarding autonomous — or “driverless” — cars. The law permits the vehicles on public roads, but only if they are being tested. Personal use is still prohibited.

The law also charges the Department of Motor Vehicles to construct systems, rules and regulations regarding the implementation of autonomous vehicles into everyday life. This will be a major step in determining liability of drivers involved in an autonomous vehicle accident.

Source: Press Democrat, “New laws that will affect drivers,” Dec. 26, 2012

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