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Saturday, January 21, 2017

CA - New Year, New Laws for 2017 Affecting Drivers

Natasha Sweatte
It’s countdown time for 2017, with just five days left in 2016.
A new year means new beginnings and new laws. 
Whether you’re an animal lover, an Uber driver, a parent, or a smart phone addict, there are a few California statewide laws you’ll want to note. 
It’s a sight no animal lover ever wants to see.
Being stuck in a car on a hot day may be uncomfortable to a human, but could be deadly for animals. 
“I’ve actually never seen it,” said Nina Motlaigh, a dog owner in Mira Mesa. 
Motlaigh rescued her fur baby Bella from a shelter in Mexico a year and a half ago.
Thankfully, she’s only witnessed responsible dog ownership, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Dogs don’t sweat like humans do, causing them to overheat at a rapid rate.
Right now, by law, good Samaritans can break into a parked car without civil liability to rescue an animal at risk of overheating.
Assembly Bill 797 expands that law, enabling Peace Officers, Animal Control, and Firefighters to do the same. 
“As long as an animal is in danger and it’s proven there’s an animal in the car, I think it’s perfectly fine for anyone to go to the car and take the animal out,” said Motlaigh. 
Starting in 2017, Uber drivers will face more extensive background checks. 
“I like it the way it is,” explained Omari Lawrence, a San Diego-based Uber Driver. 
Lawrence said it took him about a week to get his background check for the past seven years, license and registration verified.
However, Assembly Bill 1289 will now look at a driver’s entire record.
The new law establishes the company will not hire sex offenders, people convicted of any violent crimes, assault, domestic violence, or DUI.
A possible concern for drivers is whether this extended background check will raise prices for riders. 
“That would definitely be a concern for the drivers,” said Lawrence. 
Lawrence said he doesn’t like the sound of something like that potentially affecting his business.
However, he understands the need to make riders feel safe. 
“They’re doing what they have to do to bring more positive changes to their company,” said Lawrence. Attention all Smartphone addicts: Assembly Bill 1785 may affect you while you’re out on the road.

We Californians already can’t talk on our phones without it being on speaker, but this new law now prohibits a driver from holding a hand-held phone or electronic device for any reason.
It can be mounted on your vehicle’s dashboard or centered console.
However, you’re excused from the law if you’re deactivating your device.

Another upcoming law requires parents to use rear-facing car seats for children under the age of two.
The bill’s author, Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, and other supporters cite a 2007 study and noted rear-facing seats performed better in crashes.