New 2018 Laws for California Drivers

February 1, 2018

Each year, many new laws are passed that affect our day to day lives and driving laws are no exception. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has announced a list of new laws that have gone into effect on January 1, 2018. Here is a summary of the new laws you need to be aware of while driving this year.

Cannabis Use in Vehicles (SB 65)
This law prevents both drivers and passengers from smoking or ingesting marijuana products while operating or riding in a vehicle. The DMV will assign negligent operator point counts for this violation. Keep in mind that receiving too many negligent operator points can result in the suspension of your license and driving privileges.

Buses and Seat belts (SB 20)
Starting July 1, 2018, passengers are required to use seat belts on a bus equipped with seat belts. In addition, this law prevents children between the ages of 8 and 16 to be transported in a bus unless they are properly restrained by a seat belt that meets federal safety standards. Any parent, legal guardian, or chartering party that violates this law by transporting or permitting the transport of these children can be fined.

DUI – Passenger for Hire (AB 2687)
Starting July 1, 2018, any driver who gets paid to transport passengers in personal vehicles (Uber, Lyft) cannot have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04 percent or more when a passenger is in their vehicle. If one does not comply with this law, the DMV will suspend the individual’s diver license if a conviction is added to their record, and will give a disqualification to commercial driver license holders.

Parking Violations for Registration or Driver License Renewal (AB 503)
This law creates a process for low-income people to pay fines for outstanding parking violations prior to the violations being reported to the DMV. It also allows the registered owner of a vehicle to file for Planned Non Operation status when there are unpaid parking fees in their record. This status means that you plan to store and not operate your vehicle during the next renewal year.

HOV Decal Program (AB 544)
Starting January 1, 2019, this law creates a decal program allowing low-emission vehicles to drive on the carpool lanes, regardless of how many people are inside the vehicle for a four-year term. Access to carpool lanes for cars with green and white decals will expire on January 1, 2019, and anyone who was issued the decals in 2017 or 2018 will be eligible to reapply for them and will be granted access to high-occupancy toll lanes until January 1, 2022.

Disabled Person Parking Placards and Plates (SB 611)
This law makes a few changes to the administration of the Disabled Person Parking Placard and Disabled Person License Plate Program. It requires applicants to provide proof of their full name and birth date and limits the number of replacement disabled person parking placards an applicant can request without obtaining a medical certification to 4 in two years. It also requires the DMV to establish a renewal process that requires applicants to return a renewal notice by mail every 6 years starting June 2023. Currently all permanent disabled placards expire in June 2019 and are automatically renewed every 2 years.

Motorcycle Training Courses (AB 1027)
This law allows the DMV to accept a certificate of completion of any motorcyclist training program approved by the California Highway Patrol in substitution of a DMV-issued test. Anyone under the age of 21 will still be required to complete a novice motorcycle safety training program to get their class M1 or M2 license or to get a motorcycle endorsement.

Firefighter License Plate Program for Surviving Family Member (AB 1338)
The law allows a surviving spouse, domestic partner, or child of a deceased firefighter (active or retired) to independently apply for and receive a California Firefighter Special License Plate for their vehicle.

Private Carriers of Passengers (SB 19)
Starting July 1, 2018, this law transfers regulatory authority over private carriers of passengers (church and youth buses) from the California Public Utilities Commission to the DMV.

Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Program (SB 1)
Starting January 1, 2018, the DMV will be collecting a “Transportation Improvement Fee” ranging from $25 – $175, based on the vehicle’s currently value as shown in the table below. Starting July 1, 2020, they will also be collecting a “Road Improvement Fee” for zero-emission vehicles with a model year of 2020 or later.


Vehicles with Market Value Range Transportation Improvement Fee
 $0 – $4,999  $25
 $5,000 –  $24,999  $50
 $25,000 – $34,999  $100
 $35,000 – $59,999  $150
 $60,000 and higher  $175


To learn more about SB 1 and see projects in your area, visit the DMV rebuilding California website.