Useful Laws All California Drivers Need to Know

When you get behind the wheel you are taking responsibility for your actions on the road. Seeing as the average car weighs over one ton and has the ability to operate at a very high speed, it is understandable that there are very specific laws for how one must drive. It comes with the territory and it helps keep everyone involved, from the drivers on the road to the pedestrians walking on the sidewalk.

Stop at Each Sobriety Checkpoint

Many people drink to celebrate, loosen up, and have a good time. As long as you meet the legal age requirement and consume in a safe environment, there is very little harm. However, problems come up when you try to mix this with driving a vehicle. Consuming alcohol can drastically alter your ability to make good decisions and act quickly, both of which are absolutely crucial when you are driving. Whenever you drive up to a sobriety checkpoint on the road, you need to be prepared to stop and allow the police to check your sobriety level.

Having a beer or two with dinner is fine but you need to watch your consumption. If a police officer determines that your blood-alcohol content level is too high for you to safely drive your car, you will be given a DUI and the police can legally impound your vehicle for at least a month. To avoid issues with the law, play it safe and know your limits.

Knowing the Right of Way

When you are driving, you will inevitably interact with someone who is not in a vehicle. The law states that pedestrians have the right of way at crosswalks and intersections but you need to always be mindful of them. If a pedestrian is jaywalking or crossing your path in a parking lot, you should still be prepared to let them cross before you proceed. Hitting a pedestrian is still illegal and can land you in hot water with legal troubles and medical fees.

Using Your Phone

Screen usage is ubiquitous. From texting friends to watching videos, people use cellphones all the time. The issue with cellphones, however, is that they can be very distracting. Seeing as you need to stare at the screen to focus on what is on it, doing so can take your attention away from what is going on on the road. In California it is illegal to use your phone when you are driving, even if you are stopped at an intersection.

Phone Usage Laws while Driving in California

Phone usage can be found nearly everywhere. The modern cellphone is a powerful tool that can be used for all sorts of things, such as communicating with people via messaging apps, sending emails back and forth, listening to music, taking photos, playing games, and even watching movies. The concept of the phone has evolved far beyond being a way for you to make and receive voice calls.

Although phone usage has become such a big part of people’s lives, there are some areas where you need to be mindful of how you use it.

Do Not Use While Driving

California, much like many other states, has laws that prohibit the use of phones while you are driving. As useful as they are, phones can be incredibly distracting. Even looking down for a few seconds to change a song, read a message, or take a photo can be more than enough time for something bad to happen on the road.

In California, it is illegal for any driver to have a phone in their hand while they are driving. Having a phone in your hand means there is one less hand on the steering wheel. Having a phone in your hand can also tempt you to check it. Another laws prevents drivers under the age of 18 from using a phone, even if it is in a hands-free position. That being said, these general laws only apply to the person who is behind the wheel. All passengers in the car are free to use their phone as they please, as long as it does not distract the driver.

Hands-Free Use

There are some general cases where the average driver is allowed to use their phone like in a hands-free position. A phone mounted in a holder is fine if it is simply being used for navigation purposes or to change between songs. Using your phone for map navigation only requires you to glance over every now and then for updates and it does not require you to even touch it.


Although California has laws in place that prevent drivers from using their phones while they are behind the wheel, there are some exceptions to the rules. The biggest and most obvious situation is when there is an emergency of some sort. If you need to contact the fire department, a hospital, the authorities, or any other party, regarding an emergency situation, you are free to contact them immediately. These sorts of situations require quick responses.

Bizarre Traffic Laws in California

Knowing the laws in your country is important so you have an idea of what sort of behavior is acceptable and what sort of behavior is not. Driving is no different. When you get the behind the wheel to operate a vehicle, no matter if that is to drive to a cafe or to deliver packages across town for work, you need to be aware of how you should drive.

Some laws may seem a bit obvious and more common sense, such as not hitting pedestrians and waiting for the light at an intersection to turn green before you proceed. Other laws, on the other hand, may seem a bit bizarre. These laws might seem very specific or less obvious to the average driver but they are nevertheless laws that must be obeyed.

Speed Limit for Driverless Cars

In California it is illegal for cars that do not have a driver to go beyond 60 miles per hour. On the surface this might seem like a crazy idea but it is not as absurd as you may believe. As technology continues to advance, more and more companies are looking into the next steps for the modern vehicle. By pushing the boundaries of what can be done with technology, car manufacturers have developed algorithms and sensors to make self-driving cars a reality in the near future.

Although the concept has not yet been perfected, this law has been put in place to put a limit on how these driverless cars can be operated. The faster a car gets, driver or not, the tougher it can be to control and the bigger threat it can pose out on the road.

Hunting From Your Car

In California, one of the more bizarre laws out there is that you are legally not allowed to hunt from a moving vehicle. This means that you cannot shoot at an animal if your car is in motion, unless you are hunting a whale. Hunting from a moving car sounds dangerous enough, so this first part of the law sounds reasonable. There are plenty of roads that run along the coast, where you might find a whale, but the actual act of hunting whales has been illegal in the state for over 40 years. From a practical standpoint, it might make more sense to try to hunt a whale from a boat out in the open water but the fact still stands that this is an activity that can get you in legal trouble.

New California Drivers And Cyclists Laws for 2019

One of the changes that you likely already know if you use HOV lanes frequently is that the old green or white Clean Air Vehicle (CAV) stickers no longer work for HOV lanes. If you got this sticker in the year of 2017, however, then you may be eligible to get yours replaced with a new red sticker that will last until January 1, 2022.

Perhaps the most surprising new law on this list for 2019 is the fact that kids under the age of 18 years old can now officially be issued a “fix it” ticket if they neglect to wear a helmet when they are out and about on their bikes.

This law also applies for kids under 18 who are on other things like skateboards and skates. This ticket is put on record and can be taken off of their record only if they complete a bicycle safety course and prove that they got a safety approved helmet within 120 days of receiving the ticket.

On the other hand, there is another law that came into effect this year that is completely the opposite. According to this law, people who ride motorized scooters no longer have to wear a helmet as long as they are 18 years or older. They are still only allowed to ride on certain roads, however, and they are encouraged to try to stay safe should they choose to take advantage of this.