Monday, December 31, 2007

New California Laws for 2008

During the 2007 legislative year, 964 bills were passed by the California legislature and 750 were signed into law. There are 167 changes just to the California Vehicle Code. Except as otherwise noted below, the following list is a sample of just a few of the laws that go into effect in California tomorrow:
  • Beginning July 1, 2008, California will prohibit drivers from using wireless telephones without a hands-free device while driving. A separate will law prohibits all drivers under the age of 18 from using a cell phone even with a hands free device. Both laws have exceptions for emergencies.
  • Bicycle riders must have some sort of illumination devices while riding on a highway, street or sidewalk at night. The law is not clear if riders will be required to have headlights or if reflectors will be enough. Failure to have to have illumination devices could result in a ticket that requires the rider to attend a bicycle safety class.
  • Smoking will not be allowed in any vehicle if minor children are inside. The prohibition applies regardless of whether the vehicle is in traffic or parked. Police will not be able to stop a car just to check for smoking, but then can cite the driver if they pull them over for another reason. Drivers could face fines of up to $100.
  • The California minimum wage will increase by 50 cents to $8 per hour. California workers will have one of the highest minimum wages in the country.
  • A new law will allow consumers to redeem gifts cards with balances of less than $10 for cash.
  • Cities and counties will now be required to designate areas where homeless shelters can be constructed without the requirement to obtain a conditional use permit. The law is designed to remove zoning ordinances that block construction of homeless shelters.
  • Courts will now be able to require parents or guardians of gang members to attend parenting classes. The classes are designed to prevent first-time offenders from committing additional crimes.
  • Cities and counties will not longer be allowed to require landlords to verify the citizenship of their tenants. This law was a direct result of an attempt by a city in Southern California to require landlord to screen the citizenship status of potential tenants.
The information provided in this article is general information only and is not intended as legal advice. DO NOT use this information as a substitute for obtaining qualified legal advice or other professional help.

About the Author: Carl H. Starrett II has been a licensed attorney since 1993 and is a member in good standing with the California State Bar and the San Diego County Bar Association. Mr. Starrett practices in the areas of bankruptcy, business litigation, construction, corporate planning and debt collection.

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