New DMV California Motorcycle Laws – Updated 2019 

Several new laws applying to Sacramento motorcyclists took effect on January 1st, 2019. In a news release, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) reminded motorcyclists of these changes, including some that apply to gender identity on driver’s licenses, driving under the influence, motorized scooters, and more. Keeping up with the latest changes in traffic statutes can keep you on the right side of the law and out a motorcycle accident.

Facts on California Motorcyclists

California has more registered motorcyclists than any other state, with 842,543 as of 2017. California is an ideal state for motorcycling due to almost year-round sunshine, clear skies, and stunning views. California is also a motorcycle-friendly state when it comes to traffic laws. For example, it is the only state in the country that has struck out laws prohibiting lane splitting for motorcyclists. If you operate a motorcycle in California, it is important to keep up with all the changes to related laws. Otherwise, you could receive a ticket for something you did not know you were doing wrong.

Changes as of January 2019

On December 17th, 2018, the DMV announced several important changes in traffic laws that may affect motorcyclists beginning in 2019. The laws do not only apply to motorcyclists but all motorists in the state of California. These new laws have already been in effect for a few months, but they are worth reviewing. Staying out of legal trouble as a motorcyclist takes constantly reading up on all the latest updates.

  • Driving privileges for minors. The courts in California can no longer delay issuing a minor a driver’s license (nor suspend or restrict a driver’s license) for one year because of truancy or for being under the state’s guardianship. Assembly Bill (AB) 2685 removed the existing law. However, any court orders to suspend, restrict, or delay a minor’s license prior to January 1st, 2019 will remain in effect.
  • Gender identity on driver’s licenses. Motorcyclists in California now have the option to claim themselves as nonbinary on their operator’s licenses. Senate Bill No. 179 allows applications for driver’s licenses to choose female, male, or nonbinary, along with an amendment to the gender category. Under the Gender Recognition Act, drivers that choose nonbinary will receive an X under gender category.
  • No more lack of plates. Motorcyclists with new vehicles can no longer drive around without plates, thanks to AB 516. The new rule forces auto dealerships to provide temporary paper license plates with numbers and expiration dates on every motorcycle or motor vehicle they sell – new or used. The goal is to improve roadway safety and reduce the number of motorcyclists driving through tollbooths.
  • Exemption to smog checks. AB 1274 creates an exemption to the state’s strict smog check rules. Motorcycles and other vehicles that are eight or fewer model years old no longer need biannual inspections. Instead, drivers will pay an annual fee of $25, with part of the fee going to the Air Pollution Control Fund.
  • Unsafe or unsecured loads. In an effort to increase drivers’ knowledge of unsafe or unstable loads, AB 1925 requires the DMV to now include at least one question on 20% of licensing knowledge tests about California’s unsecured load rule. Part of the purpose of this new requirement is to prevent the unlawful dumping of animals.
  • No need for helmets on a motorized scooter. According to AB 2989, anyone 18 or older that operates a motorized scooter no longer needs to wear a helmet. Note that the definition of a motorized scooter is still different than a motorcycle.

Staying in the know about California’s motorist laws can help you avoid legal trouble. The more you know about the latest laws taking effect, the easier it will be to obey the rules and avoid a fine.