2011 Brings Lots of New Driving Laws

Street sweepers with cameras can now give you tickets.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Facing thousands of deaths each year on California roads, the state has taken steps to protect life and limb. A handful of new road safety laws take effect this month, according to Streetsblog.

    Starting this month, dangerous drivers will have to answer for their deeds to the state, rather than to local jurisdictions. That will ensure uniform enforcement of speeding, DUI, and reckless endangerment laws, and also gets the state Department of Motor Vehicles involved.

    The result will be fewer crazy drivers on the road, with the DMV empowered to revoke the license of habitual accident-causers.

    Enablers of drunk drivers will face particularly stiff penalties. Adults who serve liquor to minors will be held accountable if those minors cause accidents.

    And watch where you park: street sweepers will now be equipped with cameras to ticket cars illegally blocking the street.

    The new laws come at at time when SF drivers are obeying more laws than ever before. Safety on local streets has improved considerably, but there's a downside: ticket revenue is down. That means that the SFMTA will need to find other sources of income to fund projects like street repaving and traffic lights. A congestion charge for driving downtown might accomplish just that.

    And it's not all good news: another changed law will weaken penalties for bike theft. The new threshold for "grand theft" is nearly a thousand dollars, which means that most bicycles won't qualify. Seems like there ought to be a way to consider factors like "suspect took victim's primary mode of transportation to work, depriving them of income" when charging thieves.