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New California Traffic Laws Hoax Email

Summary:
Email forward includes a list of new 2007 traffic laws for the American state of California (Full commentary below).



Status:
False

Example:(Submitted, June 2007)
New California Laws effective 7/1/07

New Driving Fines for 2007

1. Carpool lane - 1st time $1068.50 starting 7/1/07 (The $271 posted on the highway is old). Don't do it again because 2nd time is going to be double. 3rd time triple, and 4th time license suspended.

2. Incorrect lane change - $380. Don't cross the lane on solid lines or intersections.

3. Block intersection - $485

4. Driving on the shoulder - $450

5. Cell phone use in the construction zone. - Double fine as of 07/01/07. Cell phone use must be "hands free" while driving.

6. Passengers over 18 not in their seat belts - both passengers and drivers get tickets .

7. Speeders can only drive 3 miles above the limit.

8. DUI = JAIL (Stays on your driving record for 10 years!)

9. As of 07/01/07 cell phone use must be "hands free" while driving. Ticket is $285. They will be looking for this like crazy - easy money for police department.

Pass this information to your friends and family....




Commentary:
This email forward lists a collection of stringent new traffic laws that are supposedly to come into force in California. According to the message, increased fines and penalties will be imposed on drivers for a range of traffic law infringements.

However, the information in the message is mostly untrue and should not be taken seriously. Moreover, the actual amount of fines for traffic infringements generally depends on the particular region of California in which the infringement occurred. California does have a Uniform Bail and Penalty Schedule, but this is simply used as a guideline. Although different jurisdictions in California may use this schedule as a general guide, the same traffic infringement may attract different penalties in different areas of California. Therefore, any supposedly state-wide list of penalties is likely to be inaccurate.

Each claim made in the email is discussed in turn below:
  1. Carpool lane - 1st time $1068.50 starting 7/1/07 (The $271 posted on the highway is old). Don't do it again because 2nd time is going to be double. 3rd time triple, and 4th time license suspended.

    False: Although the suggested fine for car-pool-lane violations has risen to $380 during 2007, there are no plans to increase this to $1068.50 and penalties do not automatically escalate for subsequent violations.

  2. Incorrect lane change - $380. Don't cross the lane on solid lines or intersections.

    False: The suggested fine for a prohibited lane change is $146, not $380.

  3. Block intersection - $485

    False: The suggested fine for blocking an intersection is $190, not $485.

  4. Driving on the shoulder - $450

    False: The suggested fine for unsafe passing on the right shoulder is $146, not $450.

  5. Cell phone use in the construction zone. - Double fine as of 07/01/07. Cell phone use must be "hands free" while driving.

    False: It is true that some fines are doubled in certain highway construction or maintenance zones. However, the law requiring drivers in California to use hands-free equipment when using cell phones is not yet in effect so there can be no double fines in construction zones as yet. The hands-free cell phone law will come into effect from July 2008, not July 2007.

  6. Passengers over 18 not in the seatbelts - both passengers and driver get tickets

    Misleading: In California, the driver and all passengers who are over 16 years of age or weigh 60 pounds or more must wear seatbelts. Children under six who weigh less than 60 pounds must be secured in a child passenger restraint system. If a passenger not wearing a seatbelt is 16 (NOT 18) or over, he or she may get a ticket. If the unrestrained passenger is under 16, the driver or, if present, the parent or guardian of the child may receive a ticket. There have been no recent changes to this law.

  7. Speeders can only drive 3 miles above the limit.

    False: This supposed rule makes no sense. Speeding is speeding, regardless of how many miles above the limit your are driving. Drivers must not exceed the maximum speed limit for the area they are driving in or they may be penalized.

  8. DUI = JAIL

    True but nothing new: People caught driving under the influence in California will normally be taken to jail, at least for a few hours and this has long been the case. According to the California DMV, a first DUI violation "shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than 96 hours, at least 48 hours of which shall be continuous, nor more than six months, and by a fine of not less than three hundred ninety dollars ($390), nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000)".

  9. As of 07/01/07 cell phone use must be "hands free" while driving. Ticket is $285. They will be looking for this like crazy - easy money for police department.

    False: As noted in Number 5 above, the hands-free cell phone use law does not come into effect until July 2008. Moreover, the suggested fine will be $70 for the first infringement and $175 for further infringements, not $285 as stated in the message.
Thus, the information in the message is highly inaccurate and passing it on to others will serve no good purpose. To get accurate and current information about traffic laws in California, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, drivers should ask relevant local authorities or refer to official documentation covering such issues.

References:
UNIFORM BAIL AND PENALTY SCHEDULES
California Driver Handbook
New Laws for 2007 - Driver License
California told to speed up car-pool-lane traffic
About.com:New California Driving Laws 2007

Last updated: 1st July 2007
First published: 1st July 2007

Write-up by Brett M. Christensen