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The Last Day To Text While Driving, Legally

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Today will forever be remembered as The Day The Fun Died for those Californian motorists who revel in texting-while-driving. As we flip the calendar to 2009, that act becomes illegal whether you have an iPhone, a Blackberry, or a hefty Zack Morris phones from 1992.

Text Messaging (SB 28) 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.
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If you want to text-and-drive you best ready an Andrew Jackson for The Man. The first offense is a $20 fine. The fine's ceiling is $50, and that's what each subsequent offense will cost you. A handful of other driving laws go into effect 01/01/09 as well.

Here are some highlights of the new vehicle code thanks to the California Department of Motor Vehicles --

  • DUI Probation License Suspension (AB 1165) A change in the driving under the influence (DUI) law creates a new authority for DMV to administratively suspend the driver's license for one year under a zero tolerance standard. The new law authorizes law enforcement to issue a notice of suspension and impound the vehicle of a person who is driving with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.01 percent or greater while on court-ordered post-DUI probation.
  • Unlicensed Car Dealers (AB 2042) This new law allows law enforcement officers to impound vehicles that are being sold by unlicensed dealers.
  • Counterfeit Clean Air Stickers (SB 1720) This new law will make it a crime to forge, counterfeit, or falsify a Clean Air Sticker. These stickers are currently issued by DMV to certain low emission vehicles and permit vehicles with these stickers to be driven in the HOV lane.
  • Temporary Operating Permits (AB2241) This law restricts DMV from issuing temporary operating permits to allow more time to obtain a smog certificate as part of the registration renewal process. Under the law, extensions will cost $50 and are only allowed if the vehicle has been tested at a smog station and failed. The extension can be for no more than 60 days from the date registration is due.
  • San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Fee (AB 2522) In an effort to fund programs to reduce vehicle emissions, vehicle owners who register their vehicles in San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, and Tulare Counties and Valley portions of Kern County will be assessed an air quality fee of $6.

Good luck in '09, Motorists!