Safety & Accident

2016 Ushers in New Traffic Laws

January 18, 2016

VIDEO: California’s Driver Earbud Ban

This month has seen thousands of new state laws go into effect, including a driver earbud ban in California, a new gasoline-pumping rule in Oregon, and DUI law reforms in Illinois.

Here are just a few of the highlights:

  • In Illinois, drivers convicted of a second DUI can only operate a vehicle equipped with a breath alcohol ignition interlock device as a condition of a restricted driving permit. A number of other DUI-related reforms also take effect. Other new laws permit refuse trucks to use amber flashing or oscillating lights, allow law enforcement to impound a vehicle driven by an uninsured driver, impose requirements for street operation of low-speed vehicles, and prohibit parking a regular car at an electric car charging station.
  • In California, drivers are prohibited from wearing earbuds in both ears while driving a vehicle or bicycle. (To view a video report on this law, click on the link or photo below the headline.) The law doesn’t apply to first-responders, construction equipment operators or refuse truck operators who use safety earplugs. Also, a new law extends an ignition interlock device pilot project to July 1, 2017.
  • The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles can ask drivers to add an emergency contact person to agency records to help law enforcement during emergencies. License-holders are free to update the contact information online at any time.
  • Minnesota requires proof of auto insurance for drivers registering any motor vehicle or motorcycle. The new rule also applies when transferring vehicle ownership.
  • When pulled over by police, Michigan drivers are permitted to show proof of auto insurance on a phone or other mobile device instead of a paper copy of the insurance certificate. Officers, however, can require drivers to forward an electronic copy so that it can be verified as authentic. Drivers who can’t produce evidence of insurance are subject to a civil infraction.
  • Oregon drivers in non-commercial vehicles can now legally pump their own gas at a gas station, during the hours from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., in rural areas. Also in Oregon, parking a non-electric car in a spot reserved for electric cars only is subject to a $250 fine.
  • Tennessee drivers face higher fines for not wearing a seat belt. A first-time offense fine climbs from $10 to $25. The penalty charged to repeat offenders rises from $20 to $50. Additionally, if a driver can’t show proof of insurance during a traffic stop, the car can be immediately towed. The minimum penalty for not carrying proof of insurance jumps from $100 to $300.
  • In Utah, all drivers applying for a first-time original or provisional Class D license must pass an additional test before receiving a permanent license. Test questions will cover driving safety topics.
  • Nevada launches a Yellow Dot Program for Clark County. Under the program, drivers can place a large yellow sticker on their vehicle window to alert first-responders about special medical needs in the event of a crash.
  • In Texas, new fees for getting a commercial driver’s license or permit go into effect.  

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