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What Every Teenager Should Know About Driving in California

May 26, 2008
Often a milestone for teenagers is their license to drive. It means great independence and freedom, but what they not take into consideration is that they also have many new responsibilities. These responsibilities become more acute when the person reaches the age of majority.

In California reaching the age of 18 means you are an adult and therefore subject to many different types of responsibilities and duties. California Prohibits Speed Contests, essentially any type of public street racing. The penalty for a firs time offender can be loss of a driver's license for six months, impounding of the car for 30 days and up to 90 days in jail. It may also mean community service and fines. If the speed contest leads to injury to a party other than the driver, the driver can also be sentenced to up to six months in jail and bigger fine. Causing injury also means the injured can sue for personal injury. These incidents are also recorded at the DMV and lead to higher insurance premiums of insurance is even available.

In California it is also illegal to throw out of a moving vehicle or at a moving vehicle. If there was intent to cause serious injury to another it is felony. Punishment of a felony means a year or more in jail. A conviction for throwing objects out of a car can lead to fines of up to $1,000 and an order to pick up litter or remove graffiti.

If you are involved in an accident you are required to stop. If you fail to stop you may be jailed for up to six months and fined $1,000. If there is injury the fine is up to $10,000 and up to one year in jail. The injured victim may also pursue a personal injury claim.

Starting July 2008 it is against the law to use a cell phone while driving unless you are 18 years of age and are using the cell phone hands free. No one under the age of 18 is permitted to use a cell phone to text message or call while driving except to make an emergency phone call.

Children may not be left unattended in a car if the engine is running. It is also unlawful to smoke in a vehicle when there is a minor in the vehicle regardless of whether it is moving or parked.

It is unlawful to use loud sounds systems in vehicle at high volumes. If the sound can be heard at a distance of 50 feet from the car it is too loud and the driver may be ticketed and in some instances even jailed. The same is true about misusing a car horn.

When riding a bicycle you are also required to follow the same rules of the road as a driver of car. Meaning you are not allowed to ride on sidewalks or drive against traffic. It is also illegal to ride a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It is illegal to ride on any part of the bicycle other than on actual bicycle seats.

To drive a motorized scooter you are required to have a license or a permit.

Drinking alcohol is unlawful for those under the age of 21 and doing so puts you at risk of losing your drivers license. It does not matter where the drinking takes place, if you are caught drinking alcohol you may have your license suspended for up to one year, or you do not have one you may become ineligible for a license for up to one year.
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