New laws are in effect as of January 1, 2009, with the most publicized among them being a ban on text messaging while driving. In July of 2008, talking on a cell phone while driving became illegal.

New laws are in effect as of January 1, 2009, with the most publicized among them being a ban on text messaging while driving. In July of 2008, talking on a cell phone while driving became illegal.


This new law makes it an infraction to write, send or read text-based communication on an electric wireless device, such as a cell phone, while driving a motor vehicle. Previously, this was only illegal for drivers under 18, but now has been expanded to all drivers.


Several years ago, when cell phones became popular, the CHP collision report form began to use check boxes indicating whether a cell phone was being used or contributed to an accident. Statistics have shown that these laws are good, Gridley-Biggs Assistant Police Chief Brian Cook said.


"I really, truly believe that cell phone laws are good laws, even though people may not like them," Cook said. "It's been proven to be dangerous while texting and driving."
The penalty for texting and driving is $20, the same as talking and driving. Cook explained, however, that the cost is upwards of $100 with additional court fees.
Both are tough laws to enforce, Cook said, and are more likely to be enforced when the infraction results in an accident or other incident.


Two other new laws will attempt to crack down on driving under the influence. One law prohibits a convicted DUI offender from operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .01 percent or greater while on probation for DUI.


It requires the driver to submit to a Preliminary Screening (PAS) test, a portable breath test to determine the presence of alcohol. If the driver refuses, or if the driver submits and has a BAC of .01 or greater, a citation will be issued, the driver's license will be taken and driving privileges will be suspended. In addition, the vehicle will be impounded.


The second law reduces the BAC from .20 to .15 percent or more at the time of arrest to trigger a requirement for the court to give heightened consideration for the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device for a first-time offender convicted of DUI of an alcoholic beverage.
"The State of California continues to get stricter on the DUI laws," Cook said. "I believe we had a record year on DUIs this year. Each year, law enforcement continue to receive more cell phone related DUI calls from concerned citizens."


Another new law allows a portable GPS device to be mounted in a 7-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield on the passenger side of the vehicle, or in a 5-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield on the driver's side.


These are the only two locations on a windshield where a GPS device can be mounted. The GPS device can only be used for navigational purposes while the motor vehicle is being operated, and it's required to be mounted outside of an airbag deployment area.