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8 New Laws That Passed In 2023 That Affect California Drivers

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Every year politicians at every level in California pass laws that affect millions of drivers across the state. From regulatory changes, tax increases, new safety regulations, and new dangers on the road, it can be a challenge for the average driver to know what changes are happening in California and how to stay in compliance.

This article will outline 8 new laws that went into effect in 2023, including what the laws are, who they affect, and what actions (if any) you need to take to make sure you are informed properly about these new laws. 

  1. Jaywalking is now legal with the “Freedom to Walk Act”
    • Jaywalking is when pedestrians (people walking without a vehicle) cross a road without using a designated crosswalk. Prior to 2023, California had strict laws against jaywalking, and individuals caught jaywalking would face citations and fines issued by law enforcement officers. However, in 2023, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill No. 2147, also known as the Freedom to Walk Act, which effectively decriminalized jaywalking in California. Under this new law, police officers are no longer allowed to stop pedestrians for jaywalking unless there is an immediate risk of a collision with a moving vehicle. This legislation introduced changes to Section 21955 of the California Vehicle Code to incorporate this provision. It is important to note that despite this change in the law, pedestrians are still responsible for exercising due care for their own safety while crossing the road.
  2. It is now harder to steal catalytic converters
    • Catalytic converters are devices on the bottom of cars and trucks that convert toxic gasses and pollutants from engine exhaust systems into “less-toxic pollutants”. These are very important devices for keeping California’s air clean and healthy to breathe, but the rising value of these devices has created a black market where thieves steal them off vehicles and sell them. To crack down on this activity, Senate Bill No. 1087 (source) was passed requiring the State to list who can sell catalytic converters to recyclers (aka, people that accept, ship, or sell used catalytic converters) and requires those recyclers to keep documentation such as the year, make, model, and copy of the vehicle title from which the catalytic converter was removed.
  3. Driving over 100 mph is now a much more serious offense
    • Senate Bill No. 1472 which was passed in 2023 states that if an individual acts in a reckless manner with a car, by doing something such as driving over 100 miles per hour, or by participating in a sideshow (aka, an event where people illegally perform dangerous tricks in their cars for an audience in a parking lot or road), if that individual kills someone they can now be charged with vehicular manslaughter for gross negligence, a more serious charge with a longer prison sentence.
  4. The CHP can now send out “Yellow Alerts” to help solve deadly vehicle crashes
    • Assembly Bill No. 1732 gives the California Highway Patrol the power to use the Emergency Alert System to send out “Yellow Alert” communications to drivers if a person is killed due to a hit-and-run incident and the police are looking for the suspect vehicle. This bill will also require the Department of the California Highway Patrol to track the number of Yellow Alert requests it receives from law enforcement agencies. The Yellow Alerts will appear as notifications on a cellphone, similar to existing notifications, such as the “Amber Alert” when a child is reported missing.
  5. Racing in parking lots is now illegal
    • California Vehicle Code § 23109 was amended in 2023 to state that it is now illegal to engage in a “motor vehicle speed contest” on a highway or in an off-street parking facility. It is also illegal to help or participate in such a speed contest by doing things such as blocking entrances or exits, or stopping vehicles. This law applies regardless of the number of vehicles that will be speeding.
  6. Drivers must move over or slow down when passing a bike lane
    • Assembly Bill No. 1909 (source) states that class 3 e-Bikes are now permitted on many trails, paths, and bicycle lanes where they were previously illegal. The law also states that when vehicles are passing bicycle lanes on California roadways they must slow down or move over at least three feet from the bicycle lane.
  7. The CHP must provide an online e-Bike safety and training program
    • Due to the increase in e-Bike popularity and accidents in California, Assembly Bill No. 1946 requires the California Highway Patrol to create and distribute information online to help e-Bike riders avoid accidents. The 11-part training course can be found online at At this time completion of the program is entirely optional and not required by law in order to ride an e-Bike in California.
  8. The CHP can now issue “Feather Alerts” for missing Native Americans
    • California Government Code Section 8594.13 (source) has given power to the California Highway Patrol to use the Emergency Alert System to send cellphone notices when indigenous women or people go missing under mysterious circumstances. The law also allows the CHP to create “be-on-the-lookout” alerts and electronic flyers to try to find the missing individual.

Other Law Changes In California

  1. Online Driver’s License Renewal for Californians 70 and Older: The temporary online renewal option that was available implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, ended on December 31, 2022. As of January 1, 2023, Californians aged 70 and older must renew their licenses in person at a DMV office.
  2. Permanent Disabled Person Parking Placard Renewals: The DMV now requires Californians who have had their permanent Disabled Person Parking Placard for at least six years to confirm their continued need for one. Those who do not respond will not have their placards renewed. According to, “This renewal requirement is one provision of prior legislation, SB 611, enacted in 2017 to curb fraud and abuse of Disabled Person Parking Placards”.
  3. Consumer Notices for Semi Autonomous Vehicles: Dealers and manufacturers selling new passenger vehicles equipped with partial driving automation must provide clear descriptions of the system’s capabilities and limitations. This is clear that the new technology needs to be very safe and gain consumer and dealer trust. More importantly, “The law also prohibits a manufacturer or dealer from deceptively marketing a feature”.
  4. Veteran Designation on Driver’s Licenses: Good news for Veterans! The $5 fee for adding a military “VETERAN” designation on a driver’s license or ID card has been eliminated.
  5. Toll Exemptions for Certain Veterans: Vehicles registered to veterans displaying specialized license plates are now exempt from paying tolls on roads, bridges, highways, and other toll facilities. It’s important to note this is for “certain” veterans. In the article on it clearly highlights this exemption is, “only to vehicles with license plates that are issued to a disabled veteran, Pearl Harbor survivor, prisoner of war, or to veterans who have received distinctions such as the Purple Heart or the Congressional Medal of Honor”.

These laws reflect a range of concerns, from enhancing road safety, supporting veterans, and indicate a trend towards more stringent regulation in the area of autonomous and “semi autonomous vehicles”. As more of those vehicles emerge and are adopted by more car manufacturers, laws will be adopted and changed in order to provide the best safety for Californians

Why are enhanced safeguards for bicycle riders so important in California?

Enhanced safeguards for bicycle riders in California are crucial for several reasons:

  • Increasing Bicycle Usage: More Californians are choosing bicycles as their primary mode of transportation. This shift necessitates greater safety measures on the roads to accommodate the rising number of cyclists and to ensure their safe coexistence with motor vehicles.
  • Safety for Vulnerable Road Users: Bicyclists are considered vulnerable road users. Unlike motor vehicle occupants, cyclists have minimal physical protection, making them more susceptible to serious injuries in accidents. Enhanced safety measures aim to reduce the risk of collisions and protect cyclists from potential harm when they are on the roadways and side streets.
  • Legal Clarity and Road Sharing: Enhanced safeguards provide clear legal guidelines on how motorists and bicyclists should interact on the road. For example, the requirement for drivers to change lanes when passing cyclists, when possible, clarifies expectations and promotes safer road sharing. This helps reduce misunderstandings and conflicts between different road users.
  • Addressing E-Bike Popularity: The growing popularity of electric bicycles and scooters, which can travel at higher speeds and cover greater distances, also underscores the need for updated safety regulations. These include rules about where e-bikes can be ridden and how they should be operated in traffic.
  • Pedestrian and Cyclist Prioritization at Intersections: New laws, such as allowing cyclists to cross at intersections with pedestrians when walk signs are illuminated, prioritize the safety of cyclists and pedestrians in busy street crossings. This provision helps give cyclists a head start over motor vehicles, potentially reducing the risk of accidents.
  • Comprehensive Traffic Safety Approach: California’s approach to traffic safety involves not only enforcement, but also public education and awareness campaigns that focus on safe behaviors for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists. This comprehensive strategy aims to foster a culture of safety and mutual respect and understanding on the roads.

These measures reflect a broader commitment to making California’s roads safer for all users, particularly those who are most vulnerable. By implementing these laws and promoting safety education, California aims to reduce accidents and injuries among bicyclists and encourage a more harmonious safe shared use of roadways.

What is the goal of the new law in 2023 for California’s sideshow and street racing ban?

The goal of the new law in California for 2023, which targets sideshows and street racing, is primarily to enhance public safety and reduce the risks associated with these dangerous and illegal activities. The law is a response to the significant threat posed by sideshows and street racing to both participants and bystanders, as well as the broader community.

Below are the key objectives of the law that highlights its importance:

  1. Reducing Fatalities and Injuries: Illegal sideshows and street racing have been linked to a number of fatal and injury traffic crashes from drivers driving erratically doing burnouts and such. By cracking down on these activities, the law aims to decrease these incidents and improve road safety.
  2. Enforcement and Deterrence: The law serves to strengthen enforcement against these illegal activities. It provides law enforcement agencies with more authority and resources to tackle sideshows and street racing, aiming to deter individuals from engaging in such behavior.
  3. Community Protection: Sideshows and street racing often occur in residential areas, posing risks to local communities. The law aims to protect these communities from the noise, disruption, and more importantly the danger associated with these events.
  4. Legal Clarity: By clearly defining and banning these activities in more than one setting (such as off-street parking facilities), the law provides legal clarity and strengthens the ability of law enforcement to take action.
  5. Awareness and Education: A very integral part of the strategy involves raising public awareness about the dangers of sideshows and street racing. This includes educational campaigns to inform the public about the risks and legal consequences of participating in or facilitating these activities.

Overall, the law is part of a broader initiative to ensure public safety on the roads and to prevent the destructive consequences that sideshows and street racing can have on individuals and communities. It reflects California’s commitment to addressing this public safety concern through a combination of enforcement, education, and community engagement.

At J&Y Law Firm, we recommend seeking professional legal advice if you have been affected by aggressive driving, unclear semi autonomous vehicle issues, issues with being injured with new roadways designed to protect you as a cyclist, or have been improperly cited for a toll while being a protected veteran. For further guidance or to discuss your specific case, contact J&Y Law Firm at 310-774-0778, and our team of experienced personal injury attorneys attorneys will be happy to assist you.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.