The new year marks the beginning of scores of new laws, ranging from workplace salaries to getting straws at restaurants, to a ban on pet store breeding to driving routines.
While many of the laws might not affect us every day, the driving laws are most likely to regularly affect us.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is reminding the public about several new laws or changes to existing law that took effect Tuesday.
Temporary License Plate Program (AB 516, Mullin): This law requires licensed California dealers, of new and used vehicles to attach temporary paper license plates on a vehicle at the point of sale if that vehicle does not display license plates previously issued by the DMV. The temporary license plates contain a unique number and expiration date. No vehicle can be driven off the dealership lot without the temporary license plate affixed to it unless it already has issued plates. The intent of this new law is to reduce the number of toll violators and improve safety for law enforcement.
Gender identity (SB 179, Atkins): This law allows individuals applying for a California driver license or identification card to self-certify their chosen gender category of male, female or nonbinary in the application. Applicants who select nonbinary will receive a card with an “X” in the gender category.
Driving Under the Influence – Ignition Interlock Device (SB 1046, Hill): Through Jan. 1, 2026, this new law mandates repeat offenders for driving under the influence (DUI) and first DUI offenders whose violations resulted in injury to install an ignition interlock device for a period ranging from 12 to 48 months. Those who receive a suspension under the Administrative Per Se law can obtain an ignition interlock device-restricted driving privilege and receive credit toward their required device restriction period if they are later convicted of a DUI. These provisions apply to DUI violations that involve alcohol or the combined use of alcohol and drugs. They do not apply to drug-only violations. Courts can order a non-injury first DUI offender to install an ignition interlock device for a period of up to six months. If the court does not order the device’s installation, a non-injury first offender can apply for a driver license for device restrictions or restrictions that allow them to drive to, from and during their employment and to and from a DUI treatment program for 12 months. Previously, the device program was only in effect in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Tulare counties.
Smog Check Changes and New Abatement Fees (AB 1274, O’Donnell): This law expands the existing smog check exemption to vehicles that are up to eight model years old, up from the current exemption of six model years. During the additional two years of exemption, the vehicles will pay an annual $25 smog abatement fee. The current annual $20 smog abatement fee for the first six years of exemption remains unchanged.
Driving Privilege for Minors (AB 2685, Lackey): This law repeals a juvenile court’s authority to suspend, restrict or delay the issuance of a driver license of a habitual truant or ward of California for up to one year. The law clarifies that any suspensions or delays reported prior to Jan. 1, 2019, remain in effect.
Motorized Scooters, (AB 2989, Flora): Bicycle helmets are no longer required for riders of motorized scooters who are age 18 or older. It also amends existing law to prohibit a person from operating a motorized scooter on a highway with a speed limit greater than 25 miles per hour, unless it is within a Class IV bikeway as well as a Class II bikeway. However, it permits local authorities to authorize the operation of motorized scooters on roads with speed limits up to 35 miles per hour outside of a Class II or Class IV bikeway.