The problem with having a full-time legislature in a high-stakes political state like California is that these people sometimes feel the need to make laws. Unnecessary laws.
You see, members of the state assembly and senate have to show some work when the go home to constituents. But instead of attacking serious, long term issues like soaring higher education costs and ridiculous congestion on our roads, lawmakers all too often take the path of least resistance.
Here's our run down of stupid frigging traffic-oriented laws that go into effect today:
-Talk to Siri! Under AB 1536, the CHP informs us, you'll now be able to use “hands-free technology to talk” while driving. Um. You know what. You could to this last year too. To be fair, the most hyped-element of the bill is essentially the new legal ability to talk to your iPhone's Siri while on the road. She can send emails, text, and tell you the weather without fear of being pulled over. Texting while driving? Still illegal. In fact, the no-texting-while-behind-the-wheel law and this one are redundant because cops can already pull you over for distracted driving, period.
-Show 'em your phone! This one's a little scary: AB 1708 allows you to show proof of you car insurance to a cop who's pulled you over by whipping out your phone and displaying the virtual documentation. Sounds cool, but get this: Police in California have the right to rifle through your phone if they believe you've committed a crime. That gives them a lot of leeway, although a screen-locked phone goes a long way in preventing that. But if you unlock it to show a peace officer your docs, and they suspect that you committed a crime, they can go ahead and keep that phone and have at all you private stuff (emails, photos) by our reading of this. This new rule appears to make that invasion of privacy so much easier. Not good.
And finally …
Keep your plates straight. AB 2489 mandates that you not mark up, alter or obfuscate your license plates. Cops need to see those numbers, and so do red-light cameras. The problem here is that this was already the freakin' case. To be fair, the legislation “clarifies the penalty imposed for obscuring the readability of license plates,” according to the CHP. Good work, Sacramento.