Things You Must Do and Not Do in California
California has, basically, the same laws and driving restrictions as any other state. But there are several laws that have been enacted that are unique to California.
- Smoking: California is notoriously outspoken against smoking, so smoking is illegal if there is a minor in the car. You can be fined up to $100 if you are caught breaking this law.
- Abandoning animals: Another law in California is the law against dumping or abandoning animals on the highway. In addition to being morally reprehensible, this comes with a fine of up to 6 months in jail, $1,000, or both.
- Cell phones: California is also one of the states that has strict Distracted Driving laws. For instance, not only is it illegal to operate a cell phone without using a hands-free device, it’s also illegal to write, send, or even read any text-based communications. Furthermore, it’s illegal to use both of your cell phone’s ear buds at the same time — you always must leave one ear open and available to hear the sounds of oncoming traffic, or the cries of frightened pedestrians.
- Firearms: Like anywhere, shooting a firearm on a highway or at a traffic sign is illegal, as is throwing a lit cigarette or cigar from your car. Doing this is not only illegal, but incredibly dangerous as well. Southern California is basically a giant tinder box. It may have beautiful beaches, but much of the state has hot, dry conditions year-round, and brushfires are a constant threat. One butt could ignite some roadside tumbleweed, and the wind could carry that small fire to devastating proportions.
- Tinting windows: One popular trend in California is to tint the windows of your car. This is a great way to keep your car cool and protect your skin and your fine leather interior from the hot sun. But there are certain tints that are considered illegal, and should therefore be avoided. If you get your windows done, be sure to adhere to the California law, or you could earn yourself a ticket in your nice, cool car.
- Seating: It’s also illegal in California to transport passengers anywhere other than in a seat, with a seatbelt. This means passengers sitting in the back of a pickup truck, or back of a station wagon. The only exception to this rule is for cars and trucks that have been retrofitted (legally) with seats and seat belts. Animals are allowed to ride in the back of pickup trucks; however they must be properly secured.
- Monitors: With the advent of modern technology comes gadgets, and with gadgets comes a long list of laws making them illegal. In-car video monitors are one of the more recent developments to require new laws in place. The current California law goes like this: You may not drive a car equipped with a monitor if “the monitor is visible to the driver and displays anything other than vehicle information global mapping displays, external media player (MP3), or satellite radio information.”
Most of these laws are a matter of having basic common sense. Obviously you cannot drive around with a passenger locked in the trunk of your car. Of course you may not drive your car into a designated wilderness area. But they have indeed happened, and because of that, we’ve had to enact official laws — and charge California traffic ticket fines. When in doubt, just use your best judgment. It’ll steer you clear most of the time.
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