Here are some new laws going into effect in 2009:
Texting While Driving - (SB 28) This new law makes it an infraction to write, send, OR EVEN READ, text-based communication on an electronic wireless communications device (put away that iPhone, Blackberry, or any cell phone that can text) while driving a motor vehicle. The old law prohibited this if you were under 18. Now it applies to EVERYONE. Play it safe if you must check a message. Pull over in a safe legal parking spot and turn off the car if you must check a text message before you get to your destination. In California the courts have been letting police officers approach vehicles for almost any reason (even if there is no vehicle code violation). This new law gives them another excuse to get you out of your car and start a Drunk Driving (DUI) investigation.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Zero Tolerance- (AB 1165) This new law prohibits someone already convicted of DUI from driving with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .01 percent or higher while on probation for DUI. If pulled over while on probation for DUI, one must take a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test. This is the hand held breath test that most officers have in the field with them. If you refuse this test or are above a .01 BAC, you will be cited, have your license taken and suspended (better get a good DUI lawyer), and your car gets impounded.
If you are currently on probation for DUI and do not remember how long or when it started, most first offense DUI probations the Bay Area and Northern California last for three years from the date of conviction. There are some counties such as Napa that require a 5 year probation on a first DUI offense.
Since the PAS breath machines are less reliable than the more expensive evidential models at the police stations, this type of offense can be fought and even won in situations where the machines are not properly calibrated. For years many police departments have not kept up with the regular calibrations required for PAS devices (every 10 days).
These PAS machines can give you a reading of .01 BAC or higher for things like mouth wash, breath strips, soy sauce, and white bread. Remember, there is alcohol in cough syrup, enough to possibly get you to or above the .01 BAC. There are many possible defenses to this new law, but the best one is to be smart. If charged with this offense, GET A GOOD DUI LAWYER.