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New 2021 traffic laws address unattended kids in cars, moving over for emergency vehicles

California traffic generic
Posted at 3:13 PM, Dec 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-26 18:15:21-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — California drivers will want to be aware of several new traffic laws, including stipulations around unattended kids in cars and moving over for emergency vehicles, that will be enforced in 2021.

Assembly Bill 2717, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2021, will exempt a person from civil or criminal liability for trespassing or damaging a vehicle when rescuing a child 6 years old or younger who is in immediate danger from heat, cold, lack of ventilation, or another dangerous circumstance.

California had already exempted good Samaritans from liability when rescuing an animal or pet in the same circumstances.

Also starting Jan. 1, Assembly Bill 2285 extends penalties for not moving over or slowing down for emergency vehicles with flashing lights on freeways to local streets and roads. Emergency vehicles will also now include tow trucks and Caltrans vehicles, in addition to law enforcement and emergency vehicles.

If a driver violates the "move over, slow down" law, CHP officers can issue a $50 ticket.

Assembly Bill 47, which was signed into law in 2019, will go into effect on July 1, 2021. The law makes the act of using a cell phone "in a handheld manner while driving" for a second time within 36 months of a prior conviction for the same offense punishable by a point being added to the driver's record.

This applies to violations of talking or texting while driving, except when hands-free, and to any use of the devices while driving by a person under 18 years old.