From changes to child safety laws to tougher drunk driving laws to laws that protect the nation’s increasing number of cyclists, new traffic laws for 2014 aim to make all passengers and road users safer. Make sure that you’re aware of and understand new traffic laws in your state so that you can help create a safe driving environment and avoid a ticket, fine, or even jail time. To help you out, we’ve included an overview of a few new traffic laws throughout the nation.
- Drunk Driving: Colorado now defines a persistent drunk driver as anyone who operates a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15 or higher (down from 0.17) or anyone who refuses to take or complete a blood, breath, or chemical test when suspected of drunk driving. DUI offenders in the state can now receive a restricted license after 30 days of no driving by installing an ignition interlock in their vehicles. The device must be kept in the vehicle for at least one year. Persistent drunk drivers must wait two months and will have to keep the device installed for at least 2 years.
- Distracted Driving: Even though the state already prohibits cell phone use for all drivers, California drivers under the age of 18 are specifically banned from all cell phone use, including voice-activated texting, handheld calling and texting, or hands-free calling. Illinois also became the 12th state to ban handheld cell phone use this year, an offense that could leave drivers with a fine of at least $75. However, drivers are allowed to use a Bluetooth headset or speakerphone. The law also includes increased penalties when cell phone use is the cause of an accident. Vermont has also banned cell phone use but only when drivers are in work zones.
- Child Passenger Safety: New Hampshire is keeping child passengers safe by requiring children under the age of 6 years old to use a child restraint, such as a booster seat, until they are at least 57” tall. Previously, children could move to an adult seat belt at 55” tall. Come February, parents across the nation will see new seat weight limits on car seats. New labeling will indicate that LATCH anchors have a weight limit of 65 lbs and that the limit includes the weight of the child and the weight of the car seat combined. If the weight of the child and car seat combined exceeds 65 lbs, the car seat must be installed using a vehicle’s seat belt.
- Bicyclist Safety: Starting on September 16, California drivers must stay at least three feet away when passing bicyclists or face a $35 to $200 fine. If injury is involved, the fine can go up to $1,000.
- Speeding: While Illinois increased its speed limit on rural four-lane highways from 65 to 70 mph, the state also lowered the limit at which drivers can be charged with excessive speeding from 31 to 26 mph over the posted speed limit.
And in case you missed it, California added a change to its DUI law that went into effect in September 2013. If a driver refuses to submit to a blood, breath, or chemical test on suspicion of drunk driving, he or she can be served a search warrant to draw blood.