State legislators across the U.S. were busy in 2011, enacting almost 40,000 new laws that go into effect on January 1, 2012. We’ve put together a list of new traffic laws affecting drivers, and potentially their car insurance, in the top 5 most populous states. If you live in California, Texas, New York, Florida or Illinois, here’s what you need to know about new traffic laws or watch out for in the new year.
Amendments to auto insurance regulations may affect whether some Golden State drivers can qualify to good driver discounts by making it simpler for insurance companies to figure out who was principally at fault in a car accident. This is great news, since California good driver discounts can save drivers at least 20% on car insurance premiums.
There are two new drunk driving laws on California’s books. AB353 prohibits the police from impounding a vehicle at a sobriety checkpoint if the driver’s only offense is not having a valid driver’s license. AB 520 allows those convicted of alcohol-related reckless driving to apply for a restricted license earlier than previously allowed if they comply with requirements such as installing an ignition-interlock device on their vehicles.
Beginning January 1, 2012, kids under 8 years old and less than 4’9” tall must ride in booster seats in the vehicle’s back seat.
Attention speedsters: AB 529 allows municipalities to round down posted speed limits on city streets by 5mph, overturning a long-standing rule that set limits based on the speeds driven on a stretch of road by the 85th percentile of drivers.
Seven hundred new laws go on the books in the Lone Star State beginning either 12/30/11 or 1/1/12. Just in time for New Year’s Eve, Texas drivers with a blood-alcohol count of 0.15 or more will face a Class A misdemeanor with up to 12 months’ jail time. Texas has also implemented a No-Refuse law that
allows officers to get on-the-spot warrants permitting blood samples if a driver refuses a breathalyzer test.
Texas will remove the 65mph speed limit signs for nights and trucks on most highways, allowing all motorists to drive 70mph day and night. A top speed of 75 may be set on non-urban state highway pending safety studies.
New provisions have been added to New York’s Move-Over Law. Drivers must now move over or slow down for all vehicles parked along Empire State roadways, including tow trucks, maintenance crews and roadside assistance. Violators will face two points on their driver’s license and up to $275 fines.
In 2011, the Sunshine State’s legislature rejected or ignored all bills that would limit a driver’s use of cell phones and text messaging devices, but at least six distracted driving bills have been filed for the 2012 legislative session, which begins January 12, 2012.
The Illinois legislature overrode Governor Pat Quinn’s veto and passed a controversial law that allows motorcyclists to proceed through a red light when it fails to trip after a “reasonable amount of time.”
Adult passengers in the back seats of any vehicle must wear seat belts.
Illinois uninsured drivers with multiple convictions now face mandatory maximum fines of $2,500 in addition to jail time, for accidents resulting in bodily injury to another person; if no injury is involved, the
maximum fine is set at $1,000.