You elect members of the state senate and assembly.
And they get paid to, well, do stuff. That stuff is mainly make laws. And each year we have new ones, whether we need them or not.
Part of the gig is that you, as a citizen, must be aware of these laws. Not knowing about them is no excuse when you end up in court.
So here are some new laws for 2016 you might want to know about:
DUIs. The state's ignition interlock device program was extended to July 1, 2017, in Los Angeles County. It had been slated to end Jan. 1. It means that if you're convicted of a DUI, and you're even eligible to keep driving, you'll have to have a breathalyzer device installed in your vehicle that allows it to start only if you blow a sober blood-alcohol reading.
The device will be required for five months for first offenses, 12 months for second offenses, 24 months for third offenses and 36 months for fourth offenses.
Traffic tickets. Legislation by L.A.-area state Sen. Bob Hertzberg allows a greater number of Californians to get citation amnesty. According to DMV:
A person is eligible for the traffic amnesty program if he or she has not made any payments after September 30, 2015, to a collection program for fines or bail already due. The law also indicates that payment of bail, fines, penalties, fees or a civil assessment is not required in order for the court to remove the civil assessment of up to $300 against any defendant who fails, after notice and without good cause, to appear in court.
Earbuds. You can't wear earbuds in both ears if you're driving a car or riding a bike. Same goes for headphones or earplugs. You have to keep at least one ear open to the world.
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Skateboards. Electric skateboards are now legal. But you have to be 16 and you have to wear a helmet. And, yeah, if you skate while drunk you could get a DUI. Seriously.
Electric bikes. They're legal, too. "Electric bicycle riders will be able to use roads similar to other bicycle riders, while providing a measure of local control if safety concerns arise on specific paths or public trails," says the DMV.
Voting. If you qualify (you're a citizen, etc.), you'll be automatically registered to vote when you apply for a driver's license or change your address with the DMV.