An important step in gender identity equality and keeping California’s roads safer are the goals behind several new laws scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2019.
• Anyone applying for a California driver license or ID card may identify as a male, female or nonbinary in their application, beginning in 2019. Applicants who choose nonbinary will see an “X” next to the gender category on the card.
• Children under the age of 18 will now be required to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle, scooter, skateboard or roller-skates. Anyone cited will receive a fix-it ticket and given 120 days to comply. Compliance includes proof of a helmet and that they’ve completed a bicycle safety course. However, those 18 and above are now no longer required to wear a helmet on motorized scooters.
• To prevent car accidents from loose items such as ladders and buckets falling off of trucks, the DMV must now include at least one question addressing laws regarding driving with an unsafe and unsecure load in at least 20 percent of the tests required to get a driver license.
• New and used vehicles without previous DMV-issued license plates cannot be driven off a car lot without temporary plates that have expiration dates.
• From Jan. 1, 2019, until Jan. 1, 2026, first-time DUI offenders and repeat DUI offenders whose violations cause injury must install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles for a time period of 12 to 48 months. Under a court’s discretion, a judge may also have the opportunity to order first-time offenders who did not cause injuries to install a device for up to six months.
• Vehicles that are eight model years old or less are now exempt from requiring a smog check compared to the previous law that exempted vehicles up to six years. But vehicles that have those additional two years of exemption will have to pay a $25 yearly smog abatement fee. The current $20 smog abatement fee for the first six years of exemption remains unchanged.
• Low- or zero-emission vehicles with a white or green sticker will no longer have access to HOV lanes as of Jan. 1, 2019. Newly-issued red zero emission stickers are still valid for HOV usage no matter how many people are in the vehicle. Any vehicle with a green or white decal that was issued between Jan. 1, 2017, and March 1, 2018, can reapply for a red decal that allows carpool lane access until Jan. 1, 2022. The DMV will also issue light purple decals in 2019 that will give people access to HOV lanes until Jan. 1, 2023. Those decals are available to people who have not applied for or received a consumer rebate for the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project unless they meet annual income requirements.
• Although a plastic straw ban is in effect in the City of Malibu, in an effort to curb plastic waste, a new state law allows full-service restaurants to only supply straws on request. The law only applies to sit-down restaurants and exempts fast food restaurants, delis and cafes.
• Kid’s menus in restaurants will no longer have sodas listed. Milk, milk substitutes, juices and sparkling water can be listed as a default. Sodas for children may be purchased, just not listed on the children’s section of the menu.
• A new law will increase transparency in workplace settlement agreements. The law prohibits confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements that would prevent disclosure of information relating to claims of sexual harassment, sexual assault, sex discrimination and related retaliation and “failure to prevent” claims filed in court or with an administrative agency. The law does not prevent a claimant from limiting the disclosure of his or her identity, or facts that could lead to the discovery of his or her identity. Additionally, courts will no longer be able to restrict the disclosure of such facts in civil proceedings.
• A new law will allow employers to inquire into an applicant’s salary expectations for the prospective position. In addition, external applicants will be entitled to a pay scale upon request, but only after completing an initial interview.
Sex crimes and harassment
• Victims of sex crimes will now have more time to pursue legal justice. A new law extends the time a plaintiff has to file suit for sexual assault from three to 10 years. The statute of limitations is further extended if the alleged conduct occurred on or after the victim’s 18th birthday.
• SB 1300, the strongest, and largest, sexual harassment bill passed this year will amend California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act by expanding employers’ potential liability by adopting or rejecting specific judicial decisions regarding sexual harassment.