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Stop Txting & Driving! New Laws Go in Effect Jan 1st

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Photo by Senor Codo via Flickr

This week the DMV released a reminder list of the new laws taking effect January 1, 2009. It was a busy year, according to the DMV website. 772 bills were signed into law, including over 80 changes to the vehicle code.

The change that will probably affect the most people is an attempt to stop all of the busy little fingers on the road.

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Text Messaging (SB 28/Simitian) This new law makes it an infraction to write, send, or read text-based communication on an electronic wireless communication device, such as a cell phone, while driving...Violating this law is punishable by a base fine of $20 for a first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense. With the addition of penalty assessments, fines can be more than triple the base fine amount.

Other new laws are intended to improve air quality by limiting temporary operating operating permits for drivers who have not gotten smog checks and imposing an air-quality fee on some counties (not LA). It will also be illegal to falsify a Clean Air Sticker (which lets you drive in the HOV lane). Speaking of the HOV lane, trippy enclosed 3-wheel vehicles will be allowed to drive in it starting in January.

Impounding is popular this year. Law enforcement will have the authority to impound a person's vehicle and suspend their license for one year if they are caught driving with a "blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.01 percent or greater while on court-ordered post-DUI probation." No second chances. Law enforcement will also be able to impound cars being sold by unlicensed dealers. So close up that illegal used car lot in the backyard, people.