Roadways Should be Safer Under These New California Laws for 2014
Police will be armed with several new laws this year aimed at making California roads safer for motorists and bicyclists and everyone sharing our roadways in 2014 and beyond.
HIT AND RUN DRIVERS
It’s going to be more difficult for hit-and-run drivers to avoid punishment starting New Year’s Day as this new California law extends the time limit to prosecute these motorists who flee the scene of an injury or fatal accident.
Indeed, under AB 184, the statute of limitations to file a criminal complaint against hit-and-run drivers has been extended to three years and they may be prosecuted for up to one year after the person is identified by police as the suspect.
The new law was proposed by Assemblyman Mike Gatto last year. Gatto, whose district includes Burbank, Glendale, Little Armenia, La Crescenta, Los Feliz and Montrose spearheaded the new law in an effort to help victims obtain justice.
“These hit-and-run drivers are often unlicensed, uninsured and intoxicated,” said Attorney West Thomas, a personal injury attorney. “This law is long overdue and necessary to help assist victims of these crimes who are hurt or the families of those killed by these cowards.”
DUI BLOOD TESTS:
A recent law that went into operation on Sept. 20, 2013, allows law enforcement officers the ability to issue a search warrant to conduct a blood test on an individual suspected of DUI driving.
Under SB 717 DeSaulnier, police may now draw blood in a “reasonable, medically approved manner” to prove a misdemeanor DUI if the person refuses the test.
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a non-profit that has served more than 61,000 victims and survivors of drunk and drugged crashes, some 28 people will die every day in a crash resulting from the actions of a drunk driver.
“MADD statistics show that car accidents are the No. 1 cause of death for teenagers,” adds Thomas, a supporter of MADD and its mission. “Also, roughly 25 percent of all DUI car accidents involve an underage driver.”
TEENS AND TEXTING
Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, teenage drivers under 18 years old will no longer be permitted to use voice-recognition devices such as the Apple Siri to text or send messages while driving.
Under California law, drivers may use the hands-free mode to talk on cell phones while behind the wheel, but this new law will also expand the law to prohibit all drivers from using wireless devices to write, send, or read a texts.
According to the most recent statistics compiled in 2010 by State Farm Insurance there were 12,000 deaths and 330,000 injuries reported from 636,000 accidents in the United States due to distracted driving.
“Drivers are more distracted than ever on our roadways,” Thomas said. “Despite laws prohibiting cell phone use without the hands-free mode, drivers continue to use them behind the wheel.”
MOTORISTS PASSING BICYCLES
A new 2014 California law affecting all motorists aims to make roads safer for bicyclists by providing a 3-foot passing distance.
Under (AB 1371), which takes effect on September 16, 2014, drivers passing a bicyclist must leave a 3-foot space between them and a rider.
However, if it is impossible to allow this space, the driver must slow down to a “reasonable and prudent speed.” Motorists who fail to adhere to the new law could face a fine whether there is an accident or not.
“Bicyclists are the most vulnerable people on our roadways as they ride alongside motorists,” said Thomas. “Many of these types of accidents also involve hit-and-run drivers who leave the cyclist to die in the streets or face huge medical bills for severe injuries alone. This law will hopefully cut down on bike crashes this year and for many to come.”
Fatal and injury bicycle accidents have been on the rise in recent years, according to the most recent statistics compiled by the California Highway Patrol’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Report between 2007 and 2011. Deaths grew from 125 in 2007 to 131 in 2008, 109 in 2009, 111 in 2010 and 142 in 2011. Bicyclists injured in accident during the 5-year period were as follows: 10,521 in 2007; 11,683 in 2008; 11,993 in 2009; 12,591 in 2010; and 13,567 in 2011.
PERSONAL INJURY LAW FIRM
For more than 32 years, The Thomas Law Firm has been a staunch advocate for victims’ rights and has fought to win justice on behalf of clients involved in personal injury and wrongful death cases, including premises liability, product liability, auto accidents, dog bites, medical malpractice and more. The firm has offices throughout California as well as Las Vegas, Nevada.
Contact us for a free case evaluation at 855-275-9378.
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