2017, brings several new laws in the state of California. Here is a list:
Cellphone use while driving: Californians are no longer allowed to use a handheld wireless phone or wireless electronic device while driving, unless the device is mounted on the vehicle windshield or dashboard in a way that doesn’t hinder the driver’s view of the road. Drivers are only allowed to activate or deactivate a feature or function on the device with a single swipe or tap and cannot do that while holding the device. This expands on a law that already bands texting while driving.
Motorcycle lane splitting: According to the new law, lane splitting is defined as driving a two-wheeled motorcycle between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane. The law allows the California Highway Patrol to develop education guidelines in a way that ensures the safety of motorcyclists, drivers, and passengers.
Vehicle registration fee: SB 383 increases the vehicle registration fee on every vehicle or trailer coach for $43 to $53 beginning April 1, 2017.
Minimum wage: California’s minimum wage will increase from $10 an hour to $10.50 an hour for businesses with 26 or more employees under SB 3. It will gradually increase to $15 an hour in 2022. The law delays increase by one year for smaller employers.
Assault Weapons: Voters passed a law that requires Californians who own gun magazines with more than 10 rounds to give them up starting January 1, 2017. Buyers must undergo a background check before buying ammunition and will be barred from buying new weapons that have a bullet button, which were developed by gun manufacturers to get around the state’s assault weapons ban. A bullet button allows a shooter to quickly dislodge the magazine using the tip of the bullet.
Law enforcement officer’s handgun storage: Law enforcement officers will be required to follow the same rules as civilians by securely storing handguns in a lockbox out of plain view or in the trunk if weapons are left in an unattended vehicle. SB 869 closes a legal loophole and was authored after stolen guns were used in several crimes throughout California.
Sexual assault clarification: Sexually assaulting an unconscious or several intoxicated person will become a crime ineligible for probation. SB 2888 clarifies that a victim cannot consent to sex while unconscious or incapacitated by drugs, alcohol or medication. The change in the law came after former Stanford Swimmer Brock Turner was given six months in jail and released for assaulting an unconscious woman.
Powder alcohol: Booze in a powder form will be illegal to possess, sell, make or use, per SB 819. Powder alcohol includes spirits, liquor, wine, beer and every other liquid that can be combined with water or any other liquid, but it does not include vaporize alcohol.
Drinking at salons: Beginning January 1, 2017, beauty salons and barber shops will be allowed to serve free wine or beer to their clients until 10:00 PM.
Right-to-die: Terminally ill patients in California will be allowed to use experimental drugs, which do not have full regulatory approval, to decide when they want to end their lives. It authorizes, but does not require health plans to cover investigational drugs and protects physicians from disciplinary actions if they recommend them once other treatment options have been exhausted. The law came about after Brittany Maynard, a Bay Area woman with terminal brain cancer, moved to Oregon before taking her life using drugs.
Gender-neutral bathrooms: Beginning March 1, 2017, AB 1732 required that all single-user toilet facilities in any business or public place to be all-gender facilities.
Human trafficking: People under 18 years old cannot be charged with prostitution, under SB 1322. Instead, they will be treated as victims. This is one of several human-trafficking bills that include raising the age children can testify outside a courtroom from 13 to 15, protecting the victim’s names from disclosure and mandating that they have access to county services.