New year, new laws -- some 2018 laws all motorists and pedestrians should be aware of

Happy New Year! Below is a short summary of some of the major laws affecting motorists and pedestrians in California as of 2018. This is not meant to be an exhaustive or detailed list; please be sure to read our disclaimer.


New California license featuring REAL ID -- your current California's driver license cannot be used at airport security after October 1, 2020

Beginning January 22, 2018, the California DMV will provide a federal compliant REAL ID driver license or ID card as an option.

Having a RealID compliant California's license is not legally required, but it will be required under federal law if you wish to use your license as identification to board an airplane, enter military bases, and most federal facilities, beginning after October 1, 2020.

There is no rush to take action since this law does not go into effect until October 1, 2020. Also remember that there is no need to have a REAL ID driver license or ID card to do any of the following:

  • Drive
  • Apply for or receive federal benefits (Veterans Affairs, Social Security Administration, etc.)
  • Enter a federal facility that does not require ID (i.e. a post office)
  • Visit a hospital or receive life-saving services

Visit the official DMV website for more details and how to apply.


Riding the bus and there is a seat belt available? 

Beginning July 1, 2018, all passengers on buses must wear a seat belt if it is available. This also applies to kids between the ages of 8 and 16, unless already restrained by a device that meets federal safety standards.


The pedestrian signal is blinking red... Can I still cross? -- Now you can, under certain conditions

Now pedestrians may begin crossing the street when the traffic signal is flashing "Don't Walk" or has a similar red flashing signal, but only if there is a countdown timer and there is enough time for the pedestrian to finish crossing the street before the signal turns a solid red.

This law is to clarify an old one which made it ambiguous whether pedestrians were allowed to cross or not under such conditions.


Recreational marijuana my be legal -- but driving or riding high is illegal

Sale of recreational marijuana became legalized at the state level in California. Remember that it is still illegal under federal law, and the Trump administration recently stated that it will leave it up to individual United States District Attorneys to enforce the federal law which bans all sale and consumption of marijuana.

Whatever you choose to do, remember that driving high is driving under the influence, and therefore illegal. You are putting yourself and other innocent drivers and pedestrians at risk if you choose to drive while under the influence of marijuana.

Even if you are just a passenger, you are not permitted to smoke or ingest marijuana or marijuana products while riding as a passenger in any vehicle.

Other laws taking into effect in 2018...

  • Ride-share drivers (such as Lyft and Uber): must have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04% or lower when driving passengers.
  • New vehicle tax: annual vehicle registration will now include an additional tax of $25, which will go toward the cost of road repairs and improvements.
  • Smog check: new vehicles are exempt from smog checks for the first 6 years and instead have to pay a fee of $20 every year.


author: Jay S. Yu, Esq.

Jay is a licensed attorney that represents only personal injury victims in California. Contact him for a free consultation today.