Driving in the state of California is unlike driving in any other state in the country. According to the United States Census Bureau, California has a population of approximately 36,961,664 residents. Around 81% (30 million) California residents are licensed drivers. This means the state of California has more drivers on its roads than the states of Texas and Florida combined.
Most would think that freeway congestion, road rage on freeways, and distracted or reckless driving are major causes of auto accidents in the California. There is some truth to this, but California freeways are not always the culprits in the majority California’s fatal crashes. According to TRIP (The Road Information Program), two-lane roads account for 77% of all fatal crashes and half of vehicle miles traveled while only 14% of fatal crashes occur on roads with four or more lanes. In the state of California, 53% of the roads on the National Highway System, excluding the Interstate system, are two lanes.
California has some tough driving issues to deal with on a daily basis, so to help control accidents, costs to taxpayers, and overall driving safety the state has a number of driving laws in place. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, all California drivers must carry minimum auto liability coverage in order to own and operate a vehicle in the state. If you purchase auto insurance in California, the policy must include a minimum of (15/30/5). This translates to: $15,000 for death or injury of any one person, any one accident, $30,000 for all persons in any one accident, and $5,000 for damage to property in any one accident (California Insurance Code §11580.1b).
In addition to minimum auto liability coverage, California has specific DUI laws and teen driving laws. In the state of California, it is a crime to drive a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration level (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. DUI offenders will end up spending at least 4 hours in jail and their license will be suspended for at least 4 months. California DUI offenders will have to install an interlock device on the vehicle at the owner’s expense, take a 3 ½ month DUI class, and complete 48 hours of community service. In addition, 2 points will be added to the offenders driving record and pay up to $5,300 in assessments, fees, and fines.
Teen DUI offenders will have their driving privileges revoked for a time period to be determined by the judge and driving level.
When it comes to California teens and driving, the state lives by the motto “teach them early.” California teen drivers must complete the state’s Graduated Driver Licensing Program in order to obtain an unrestricted license. The program takes the teen through several levels of licensing including permit, interim license, and provisional license. All levels have restrictions ranging from passenger restrictions to nighttime driving restrictions. California teens ages 15 ½ – 17 ½ are eligible to apply for the program.
Additional special laws exist for California teens in the areas of alcohol consumption and cell phone usage. According to autoinsurancetips.com, it is a crime for a teen to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.02% or higher. A BAC of 0.02% is as little as one beer – maybe even less for some. Any California teen caught drinking and driving will lose his or her license for up to one year.
In the state of California, it is also illegal for individuals under the age of 18 to operate a cell phone while driving. This includes hands free and texting. First time offenders will receive a $20 traffic ticket. Second and third offenses cost $50. All violations become a part of the teen’s permanent California DMV record. Traffic violations will affect the teen’s credit and insurance rates.
For more information about California Driving laws, California driving statistics, and more, please visit:
California_Auto_Insurance – Auto Insurance Tips
http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/brochures/fast_facts/ffvr18.htm – California Department of Motor Vehicles
http://www.tripnet.org/ – TRIP: The Road Information Program
http://www.insurance.ca.gov/ – California Department of Insurance (Website)
http://www.census.gov/ – United States Census Bureau