Other Laws

Other California Traffic Laws

This page contain various other important traffic laws in California pertaining to cars.

Accident reporting

Crashes are required to be reported in cases of death or injury or when property damage exceeds $750.00. Reports must be filed within 10 days.

Bumper height

Modification of original vehicle bumper height is permitted. Maximum frame height: 23 inches for passenger vehicles.

Driver’s license examination

Written exam includes knowledge of motor vehicle laws, English language proficiency, and traffic signs and signals recognition.

Roadside test is mandatory but may be waived if the applicant submits a license held by another jurisdiction and the DMV is able to verify there are no holds or impediments on the license.

Roadside examination officers may refuse to administer the exam if applicant is unable to provide proof of financial responsibility.

Applicants for a provisional license who fail the written exam must wait 1 week before re-taking the exam; those who fail the driving exam must wait 2 weeks before re-taking.

Hearing and vision tests are also administered; visual acuity may not be 20/200 or worse when wearing corrective lenses.

Application for Class A or B license shall also include a report of medical examination of an applicant given not more than 2 years prior to the date of the application.

Driver’s license application

Application for license must be made not more than 10 days after establishing residence.

Application must contain a legible print of the applicant’s thumb or finger and applicant’s social security number. Social security number does not appear on license.

DMV must require all applicants to provide proof of legal presence in the U.S., including presence in the U.S. when authorized under federal law pursuant to the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program.

Prior to issuing or renewing a license, the DMV must check the applicant’s record for traffic violations, accidents, failure to appear in court, or reports indicating incapacity to drive.

All licenses must bear an engraved picture or photograph of the licensee.

License is issued with a magnetic strip containing driver information.

A non-commercial Class B license or endorsement must be obtained in order to operate a motor home of over 40 feet in length. Persons licensed to drive motor homes must submit medical information verifying minimal health requirements upon initial license application and every 2 years thereafter.

License applicants that do not take driver education must wait until age 18 for license.

They are not required to go through the intermediate license stage.

Driver’s license renewal

All original licenses expire on the 5th birthday of the applicant following the date of the application for license and are renewable for successive 5-year periods.

License renewal may be done by mail if licensee is not probationary and the licensee’s records for the 2 years preceding renewal show no violation of specified traffic laws, a point count of not more than 1, no refusal to submit to a chemical test, and no suspension of the license. No more than 2 sequential mail renewals are permitted.

At age 70, mail renewal is prohibited.

Spouse and/or dependents of military personnel may apply for a renewal of their license by calling DMV or requesting a no-fee 1-year extension by writing to the DMV.

Licenses of out-of-state active military personnel are valid beyond their normal expiration date. Active military personnel with expired licenses must carry a DL 236 card with their licenses. Extended licenses are good for 30 days after return to California.

Hazard light usage

Hazard light use is not permitted while driving except to indicate a traffic hazard.

Headlights usage

Headlights are required to be on during darkness, when wipers are in continuous use, or when visibility is less than 1000 feet.

Move over laws

State law requires drivers to slow down and vacate the lane closest to a stationary emergency response vehicle flashing emergency lights if safe to do so. This includes tow trucks and Caltrans vehicles if displaying flashing amber warning lights.

Mudguards

Any motor vehicle with 3 or more wheels, or any trailer or semi-trailer must be equipped with mudguards if the body of the vehicle does not provide adequate protection against spray or splash of water or mud to the rear of the vehicle; trailers and semitrailers weighing less than 1,500 lbs. or vehicles made before January 1, 1971, and weighing less than 1,500 lbs. are not required to have mudguards.

Radar detectors

Radar detectors are permitted in the state of California.

Radar jamming

Interfering with devices that measure vehicle speed is not permitted in California as per Vehicle Code section 28150:

No vehicle shall be equipped with any device that is designed for, or is capable of, jamming, scrambling, neutralizing, disabling, or otherwise interfering with radar, laser, or any other electronic device used by a law enforcement agency to measure the speed of moving objects.

Railroad crossing

Buses carrying passengers, motortrucks transporting employees, school buses, and vehicles carrying flammable materials, farm labor vehicles carrying passengers, commercial motor vehicles carrying chlorine, commercial motor vehicles requiring markings or placards according to federal regulations, cargo tank motor vehicles transporting a commodity that at time of loading had a temperature above its flashpoint, and cargo tankers whether loaded or empty must stop less than 50 feet but more than 15 feet from the nearest rail before proceeding, unless otherwise directed by a traffic officer or traffic control device.

All other vehicles need only stop when directed to do so by traffic signal or traffic officer.

Safety inspection

Non-resident vehicles require a free safety inspection during their first car registration.

Officers of the California Highway Patrol that believe a vehicle is being operated in an unsafe condition as to endanger any person may require the driver of the vehicle to stop and submit to an inspection of the vehicle.

Seat belts

Seats belts are required for the driver and all passengers age 16 and older.

Violation of the seat belt law is a standard offense.

Riding in the cargo area of a pickup truck is not permitted; some exceptions apply.

Studded tires

Studded tires are permitted November 1 to April 30 and if retracted, May 1 to October 31.

Screens and monitors

It is unlawful to drive a motor vehicle equipped with a television receiver, a video monitor, or a television or video screen, or any other similar means of usually displaying a television broadcast if the receiver is located in the vehicle at any point forward of the back of the driver’s seat. GPS navigation systems that are mountable on the windshield or the dashboard are permitted, as are systems designed to prevent the driver from viewing them. There is also an exemption for video event recorders that have the capability of monitoring driver performance, if mounted in specific locations.

Tire chains

Tire chain usage is permitted for hazardous weather or other related incidents only, but may not damage the highway surface.

Title application

Certificate of ownership is issued by the DMV upon registration of vehicle.

The DMV may issue a title to a non-registered vehicle so long as the vehicle has not been driven, moved, or left standing on a highway and will not be driven or moved.

The vehicle title is valid until suspended, revoked, or canceled by the DMV or upon a transfer of interest in the vehicle.

Title transfer of ownership

An effective transfer requires endorsement and delivery of certificate of ownership by transferor to transferee and delivery by transferee of the certificate to the DMV, with proper transfer fee and application for transfer of registration, within 10 days of receipt by the transferee.

Transfer may also be effected when an owner, within 5 calendar days of transfer or sale, provides notice to the DMV of such transfer or sale including the name and address of the owner and the transferee, a description of the vehicle, and the mileage at the time of sale or transfer.

Prior to, or at the time of sale or transfer, the owner must provide the transferee with a valid certificate of compliance stating that the vehicle meets state air pollution control standards.

Transfer of plates

Transfer of specialized plates to another vehicle is permitted provided proper transfer fees are included.

Regular plates remain with vehicle upon transfer or sale.

This article about Other California Traffic Laws was last updated in 2017. If any of our information is incomplete or outdated please let us know. Thank you!