Resolutions abound this time of year. But as you’re readying yourself for an even better year than before, don’t get caught unprepared with California’s new laws!
From driving and biking to fires and force, there are dozens of regulations you should be aware of.
If you’re injured because someone else neglected to learn the new safety and procedural changes, the attorneys at Hershey Law are here and ready to protect your rights!
Personal Injury Law Revisions
Be alert and aware on the road in 2020. Distractions can cost you significantly more than ever before! Whether you’re biking or driving, these are the newest changes that pertain to you.
- Distracted driving adds points on your license. Under California law AB47, drivers are prohibited from using wireless phones when they are behind the wheel. Exclusions apply for Bluetooth and non-handheld operating, but in general, the state is one of the most strict in the country when it comes to this law.
It makes sense, too. More than 1.5 million car accidents every year are due to distracted drivers on their cell phones.
Over 3,000 of these accidents result in fatalities. It doesn’t sound like a huge number when placed next to the actual crashes, but every one of these people had families and friends who miss them because of a preventable accident. Cracking down is imperative.
In a recent research survey, California ranked number two in the United States for the most fatalities due to distracted driving. This statistic is unacceptable, and lawmakers are cracking down even further.
Now, if you are found guilty of driving while using your phone in a manner consistent with a handheld device, you will receive a fine. On top of that hefty penalty, you will also pay the extra sanctions that come from the added point you’ll get on your license.
Drivers can face up to one point for each violation that occurs within three years of a prior offense for the same charge.
Driving while using your phone can be expensive for you, but deadly for everyone involved. Don’t do it.
- Bicycles get an extra boost in safety through traffic control. California law AB1266 takes bikers’ safety into high consideration. Now, bicyclists will get to go straight in a turning lane if they are at an intersection when permitted by the new official traffic control devices being rolled out.
The turning lanes are arguably the most dangerous place for someone on a bike. Drivers are not always vigilant as they turn when it comes to looking for pedestrians and bikers. Some of the most common types of accidents for bicyclists include:
- The left hook crash. In this type of accident, the most prevalent involving bikes and cars, the driver turns left at an intersection and doesn’t see a cyclist who is headed in the opposite way. Neither the cyclist nor the driver is able to prevent the collision fast enough, and the car and bike collide.
- The right hook crash. Similar to the previous accident, this occurs when a driver is turning right and the bicyclist is, as per law, riding in the same lane or the adjacent shoulder. The driver doesn’t see the cyclist, who is doing what they are legally able to do, and the two collide.
- The intersection crash. This occurs when a driver isn’t paying attention and makes a right turn at an intersection. At the same time, a cyclist is crossing the intersection from across the road. The driver doesn’t see the cyclist and the accident, which could have been prevented, results in a dangerous collision.
The goal of these new traffic control devices is to make drivers more aware of the bikes on the road with them and increase vigilance and safety at dangerous intersections.
- Consumption of cannabis in a vehicle, even by passengers, is not allowed. With all of the regulation making cannabis legal, it was to be expected that new laws would have to be implemented and enforced as problems arose. One of those issues is differentiating between drivers and passengers who are using cannabis.
Since so many states began allowing cannabis for personal use, fatal accidents in the country have tripled. But since there haven’t been any laws regulating its use behind the wheel, many of these drivers haven’t been penalized as strictly as they should have been.
Marijuana-impaired driving can be extremely dangerous, and when the passengers are using cannabis in the car, this can impact the driver’s ability to perform safely, too.
Under California law AB1810, it is now prohibited for anyone, including passengers, to consume cannabis in any way, shape or form, while in a vehicle. These vehicles include passenger cars, campers, limos, pedicabs, taxis, buses, rideshares or any moving transportation.
Alcoholic beverages may still be consumed by passengers.
Workplace Laws are Changing, Too
The road isn’t the only place where Californians are seeing law changes. Anyone in the workplace needs to be aware of the following new regulations:
- The minimum wage has increased. Inflation has been on the rise for years, but minimum wage has stagnated until recently. Now, some California workers will see a big bump in their paychecks as these laws go into effect.
Under California law SB3, the minimum wage for companies with 25 or less employees moves from $11 to $12. Larger companies with more than 25 employees must start entry-level positions at a minimum of $13 per hour.
As of 2019, the average minimum wage in the United States was $7.25 per hour, but California’s cost of living is notably higher than most of the country. The state falls in the top ten of the most expensive states to reside in through research surveys, so the minimum wage should, reasonably, be much higher than the average.
- Discrimination in hair choices gets another win. Workplaces have federal laws already against discriminating for physical appearances, but hairstyles have generally been left up to the discrepancy of the employer. Not anymore.
According to California law SB188, workplace and school discrimination against a person’s hairstyle is prohibited. Natural hairstyles and textures are now protected from distinction, as an individual’s birthright or personal choice.
Not only does this include your birth hair, but it also covers braids, twists, and locks from being denied. These are considered to be a cultural choice and should not be discriminated against.
- More training on sexual harassment is mandatory. As of 2019, California’s sexual harassment rates were up to 5% higher for women and 10% higher for men than the national average. Although the state is active in the #MeToo movement and other anti-sexual harassment focuses, this form of discrimination continues to rise.
To help combat the problem, California law SB1343 requires any business that employs five or more people to provide sexual harassment training consistently. This training must be given within the first six months of employment, and then again provided every two years after.
- Accommodations for family care improve. Breastfeeding in public is a hot button topic throughout the world, but in California, lawmakers know it’s important that parents have a choice in how their child is fed.
California law SB142 requires all companies to provide their employees with lactation accommodations in reasonably convenient locations at work. They must give their lactating workers a place to breastfeed or pump somewhere close to their workstation and said area must have electrical plugs and significant privacy.
In addition to this win for breastfeeding advocates, SB83 also puts families first. Under this law, new parents will get an extra two weeks off, with paid leave, starting July 1, 2020. The Paid Family Leave Act increases a parent’s time off after their child’s birth from six weeks to eight weeks.
In Other News, You Might Want to Know About These Laws, Too
Of course, our lives don’t stop when we’re not working or driving. In day-to-day and criminal occurrences, a few new laws have been enacted that you should be aware of.
- Juvenile non-violent crime punishments are adjusted. In previous laws, children under 12 were sent to juvenile hall for non-violent crimes. Under SB439, they’ll be released to a parent or legal guardian instead. However, this only applies to crimes where violence is not an issue, such as graffiti or petty theft.
Children, no matter the age, found guilty of violent crimes such as rape, bodily harm, or murder must abide by a criminal set of consequences.
- Human trafficking is a big problem and is being taken more seriously. Human trafficking is now a $32 billion dollar industry. It’s a problem in every state. There’s no town or city protected from this major crime and everyone should be aware of the risks.
Under California law SB970, all operators of any motel or hotel in the state must give their staff training on how to recognize signs of human trafficking. Staff should learn how to tell if a person is a victim of this crime and what to do to help them.
It’s a great start, since hotels and motels are frequently used by traffickers. But it’s also something everyone should learn. You never know when you might save a life.
Hershey Law is Always on Top of Things
Laws and regulations are always in flux and evolving. One thing that doesn’t vary, though, is our attorneys’ ability to stay up to date with the new changes.
If you or a loved one need the advice of an expert personal injury lawyer at Hershey Law, schedule an appointment today for your free consultation.