SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Several new traffic safety laws were set to take effect throughout California in 2021.
California Highway Patrol explained what they are and when they will be enforced:
License Points for Distracted Driving: Starting on July 1, 2021, drivers who violate the hands-free law by using a handheld cell phone while driving for a second time within 36 months will have a point added to their driver's record. Holding a phone while driving is currently punishable by a fine.
Unattended Children in Motor Vehicles: Beginning on Jan. 1, a person who trespasses into or damages a vehicle while rescuing a child aged 6 or under who is in immediate danger from heat, cold, lack of ventilation or other serious circumstances will be exempt from civil or criminal liability.
"Move Over, Slow Down" Amendments: The provisions of the "Move Over, Slow Down" law in place was extended on Jan. 1 to apply to local streets and roads, not just freeways. Drivers coming up on a stationary emergency vehicle displaying emergency lights will be required to move to another lane if possible or slow to a reasonable speed. This also applies to tow trucks and Caltrans vehicles.
Another law went into effect in September of last year allowing authorized emergency vehicles to use a "Hi-Lo" warning sound, different from a siren, to let the public know they need to evacuate an area in an emergency. CHP said it is working to create regulations that would standardize the Hi-Lo sound statewide. Until those regulations are in place, law enforcement agencies can use the Hi-Lo warning sound by obtaining a permit from CHP.