2016 CA Laws for Vehicles, Bikes and Hoverboards

2016 CA Laws for Vehicles, Bikes and Hoverboards

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January 4, 2016

Ellis Law Corporation


A number of new public safety laws are set to go into effect in California on New Year’s Day, including several related to motorists, cyclists, and so-called “hoverboards.” Some of the laws are state-wide; others are limited to certain cities or counties.

While the laws cover a wide range of topics, three relate to more unconventional modes of transportation. For instance, there are several stipulations related to electrically motorized skateboards, commonly called “hoverboard” scooters. The new law mandates that they must be operated with a helmet and equipment that makes riders visible at night.

Hoverboard riders must be 16 years of age or older and cannot operate the boards under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Fines of up to $250 can be levied for noncompliance. The city of Sacramento has authorized riders of so-called “brew bikes” to drink alcohol while pedaling through Midtown. The state of California has also offered a definition of motorized bicycles as “a bicycle with fully operational pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts.”

New CA laws include DUI, distracted driving ordinances

The new California laws also include ordinances related to driving under the influence and distracted driving.  SB 61 extends the Ignition Interlock Device (IID) project to July 1, 2017.  The project entails the installation of such devices in the automobile of a person convicted of DUI: five months for a first offense; one year for a second offense; two years for a third offense; and three years for a fourth offense.

IIDs are breathalizer machines that disrupt the ignition system in a car to prevent the car from starting if the driver has alcohol in his or her system.  The law relates specifically to Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Tulare counties.  Another law, SB 491, prevents drivers from wearing headsets, earplugs, or earphones that cover both ears while operating a vehicle, including a bicycle.  (It does not apply to safety devices used while operating emergency, construction, or waste equipment.)

Other miscellaneous statutes include the following:

  • Slow-moving vehicles that must move to the side to let traffic pass now include bicycles.
  • Qualified persons applying for a driver’s license or changing their address at the DMV will be registered to vote.
  • Silver alerts will be posted via Changeable Message Signs (CMS) when a vehicle is involved.
  • A new yellow alert system has been established for certain hit and run incidents.

New legislation and liability issues

Some of the new laws may have impact on how liability is understood in auto accident cases.  For instance, if a driver violates the law by wearing earbuds in both ears, this may be taken into consideration as a factor involved in an accident if the driver hits a pedestrian or other driver while distracted.

On the other hand, California is a state that recognizes comparative liability, and a bicycle rider violating the same law who is hit may also be considered partially culpable in the accident.

Motorists or bicyclists involved in an accident that left them with serious injuries will want to contact an attorney with an in depth understanding of how the new laws will affect a prospective case.

Ellis Law invite you to call 310-641-3335 to set up a free case review with skilled personal injury lawyers that Los Angeles has come to trust.