New DMV Laws Effective January 1, 2019

by Lisa on January 01, 2019

January 1, 2019 ushers in new laws across the country, but this year, unlike prior years, none will require changes to DMV manuals or force drivers to learn new rules of the road.

Here’s a summary of the new laws that do impact drivers, although none are expected to ever appear on the pages of a driver’s license written test.

One CA law does require that the DMV ask at least ONE question in at least 20% of the tests administered for a driver’s license regarding unsafe loads. This means each person taking the test has at least a 20% chance of coming across a question regarding unsafe loads!

Alaska will start issuing Real ID’s (ID’s in compliance with new federal regulations) on January 2, 2019.

Utah also lowered it’s legal drinking level to .05 from .08. It becomes the state with the stricted drunk driving laws. For some individuals, just one drink and driving will place them at risk of breaking the law.

California New Laws Effective January 1, 2019

  • Drunk Driving Ignition Interlock Devices

Senate Bill 1046 requires Californians found guilty of driving under the influence to temporarily install breathalyzers in their vehicles to get their driver’s licenses back. The bill takes effect Jan. 1, 2019.

Under the new law, an eligible individual whose license has been suspended for driving a motor vehicle with a certain blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) can be eligible for a restricted driver’s license if the person installs an ignition interlock device.

For drivers who can get an IID installed, this new law means that most first-time DUI offenders will be able to get their driving privileges back quickly, without having to wait for a mandatory suspension period. By driving with an IID on the vehicle, drivers can get to work, school, or anywhere else as long as they have the equipment installed in the vehicle.

  • Temporary License Plate Program (AB 516, Mullin)

This law requires licensed California dealers, of new and used vehicles to attach temporary paper license plates on a vehicle at the point of sale if that vehicle does not display license plates previously issued by the DMV. The temporary license plates contain a unique number and expiration date. No vehicle can be driven off the dealership lot without the temporary license plate affixed to it unless it already has issued plates. The intent of this new law is to reduce the number of toll violators and improve safety for law enforcement.

  • Gender Identity Female, Male, or Nonbinary (SB 179, Atkins)

This law allows individuals applying for a California driver license or identification card to self-certify their chosen gender category of male, female or nonbinary in the application. Applicants who select nonbinary will receive a card with an “X” in the gender category.

  • Motorized Scooters, (AB 2989, Flora)

Bicycle helmets are no longer required for riders of motorized scooters who are age 18 or older. It also amends existing law to prohibit a person from operating a motorized scooter on a highway with a speed limit greater than 25 miles per hour, unless it is within a Class IV bikeway as well as a Class II bikeway. However, it permits local authorities to authorize the operation of motorized scooters on roads with speed limits up to 35 miles per hour outside of a Class II or Class IV bikeway.

  • Unsafe, unsecured loads on vehicles (AB 1925, Choi): This law requires the DMV to include at least one question addressing laws pertaining to driving with an unsafe, unsecured load in at least 20 percent of the knowledge tests administered to driver license applicants.
  • High-Occupancy Vehicle Lanes (AB 544, Bloom)

As previously announced, AB 544 created a new program to grant low-emission vehicles and transitional zero-emission vehicles access to high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes for an approximate four-year period, regardless of the vehicle occupancy level. A green or white decal is valid until January 1, 2019 and vehicles displaying these decals no longer have access to HOV lanes. Vehicles that were issued a green or white decal between January 1, 2017 and March 1, 2018 are eligible to apply for a red decal that grants them access to HOV lanes until January 1, 2022. The DMV notified these customers of their eligibility by mail. The DMV will issue light purple decals in 2019 that will grant access to HOV lanes until January 1, 2023. Decals are available to applicants who have not applied for or received a consumer rebate pursuant to the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, unless they meet annual income requirements. For more information or to apply, visit DMV’s Clean Air Vehicle Decals webpage. Visit the California Air Resources Board website for additional information on vehicle eligibility.

Illinois 2019 Laws


Children younger than two must ride in rear-facing child-restraint seats in automobiles. Children taller than 40 inches or weighing more than 40 pounds are exempt.

Rescue vehicles in Chicago will be required to use sirens and lamps only when “reasonably necessary to warn pedestrians and other drivers” of their approach.

The law also tasks the secretary of state with updating the “Rules of the Road” with information on the “Dutch Reach” method of opening car doors. While sitting in the driver’s seat at the curb, the Dutch Reach involves reaching across the body with the right hand to open the door, thereby encouraging a glance over the shoulder at oncoming traffic.

Backup vehicular lights will be required to emit a white or amber light without a glare.

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