Category Archives: California

How to File a Complaint Against a Doctor in California

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

When another person causes an injury or other damages, you can pursue a personal injury claim to recover your losses. However, if the person who injured you was a doctor administering medical treatment, it’s first vital to determine whether medical malpractice occurred. A medical malpractice lawsuit will follow a similar framework to a personal injury lawsuit with a few notable exceptions. In California, a medical malpractice claim will need to pass through the Medical Board of California before you can proceed with your lawsuit.

Starting Your Medical Malpractice Claim

It’s important to remember that medicine is an inherently uncertain field. New treatments show promise for a variety of conditions, and medical science has advanced tremendously in recent years. Individual reactions to medical conditions and diseases can differ greatly as well. A margin of error always exists in medicine, and even an accomplished, skilled, and competent medical professional can make an honest mistake.

The Medical Board of California reviews medical malpractice claims to determine whether the claimant has grounds for a lawsuit. Essentially, the medical board reviews the details of the claim to determine if the defendant in the claim failed to meet the acceptable standard of care for the patient’s situation. If the board finds that the plaintiff has grounds for a medical malpractice claim, it may investigate and press charges, if necessary. Approval from the medical board is one of the most important requirements for filing a medical malpractice claim in California.

Standard of Care

The medical community reaches consensus for known medical conditions to decide the best methods for treating those conditions. New treatments, medications, and therapies require thorough testing before the medical community can rely on them on a regular basis. The “standard of care” is the level of treatment the medical community recommends for a condition. If a physician fails to meet this standard of care or deviates from the standard of care without justification and harms the patient, the physician commits medical malpractice.

It’s important to note that medical negligence does not necessarily equate to medical malpractice. Medical negligence describes a deviation from the standard of care, while medical malpractice describes a deviation resulting in patient harm. It’s possible for a defendant to have committed medical negligence without committing medical malpractice. If the patient did not suffer any harm from the defendant’s negligence, there is no claim.

The Medical Board of California also investigates claims pertaining to sexual misconduct, the administration of medical treatment under the influence of drugs or alcohol, substandard medical care, improper prescription practices, unprofessional conduct, and office practice complaints. It’s possible for a medical malpractice claim to touch on many of these issues, so the Medical Board’s investigation will be critical to a subsequent lawsuit.

The Claim Process

Once the Medical Board of California receives your complaint and determines that the claim falls within its jurisdiction, it will mail you an acknowledgment of receipt of your claim. A medical board analyst may contact you to request documentation related to your claim or to release some of your medical records. Once the board has your complaint and the necessary documentation, a medical consultant will review the complaint to determine whether the claim has grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

No one can predict how long the claims process will take. Each case has many unique factors that may complicate the process. The board’s responsibility is to investigate any claims of medical professionals violating the standard of care for their patients and pursuing administrative action against those professionals if necessary. Once you know that the defendant in your claim violated the standard of care in your treatment, an experienced Bakersfield medical malpractice lawyer can help you build your case and take your next steps toward recovery.

Posted by highrank at 8:30 pm

What Is the Paul Lee School Bus Safety Law?

Monday, July 23, 2018

Thousands of students across the state of California rely on school buses for transportation to and from school. Bus drivers must follow safety measures while operating these vehicles to ensure that students arrive at school and home without any injuries or accidents. However, driving is not the only time that students face potential harm while on the school bus.

Following the unfortunate death of one student in 2015, California passed Senate Bill 1072, also known as the Paul Lee School Bus Safety Law, to increase school bus safety.

Origin of the Law

On September 11, 2015, Hoon Jun “Paul” Lee died in a school bus. It was not the result of a bus accident, but instead from overheating. After completing his rounds for the morning, the bus driver had parked the bus in the lot and left. Lee was in the bus in 90-degree weather with the windows shut. Authorities discovered him over seven hours later, dead.

Lee, a nonverbal autistic, did not receive any help with getting off the bus. The driver, Armando Abel Ramirez, failed to notice Lee was still on board, despite the boy sitting upright and being tall enough to be visible over the top of the seat. Ramirez did not conduct a proper check of the bus before departing. Lee was 19 years old.

In response to the incident, California signed the Paul Lee School Bus Safety Law in early 2016.

What Does the Law Do?

The Paul Lee School Bus Safety Law is a measure to prevent future incidents of students left on school buses. It requires all old and new school buses in the state to have a child safety-alarm equipped. Other vehicles responsible for transport of students, especially those with special needs, will also require safety alarms. The alarm must meet California Highway Patrol regulations.

The alarm works whenever the driver shuts the bus down. The alarm will emit a noise until the driver presses the stop switch – which is at the back of the bus. As such, the driver will have to walk through the whole bus to turn the alarm off, checking for any children in the process.

Other vehicles that transport students do not require alarms if they meet certain conditions, such as not only transporting pupils, the presence of a responsible adult chaperone, and drivers filling out forms after each student-based trip that confirms that no children are still on the vehicle.

The bill also adds a provision that all school bus drivers must receive additional child-safety check training when renewing their bus driver safety certificates. Like their certificates, this additional training must happen every year.

Through the combination of alarm systems and further safety training, California hopes to better equip school bus drivers with the skills necessary to keep students safe, even after the bus has pulled off the road.

When Does the Law Go into Effect?

The original version of the Paul Lee School Bus Safety law was set to go into effect during the 2018-2019 school year. By that time, all school buses were to have CHA-approved children safety alarms. However, the statewide need for new alarm systems posed challenges for schools due to the limited number of producers and installers for such systems. The late approval of the exact alarm requirements also caused delays for schools implementing the new protocol.

Due to the complications, California made steps to pass Senate Bill 1269, which would increase the deadline for installation of child safety alarms until the 2019-2020 school year. The current version of the bill requires vehicles responsible for special needs students to have proper alarm systems by the 2018-2019 school year, while other vehicles have six additional months to meet the policy requirements.

Posted by highrank at 8:11 pm

Do Pedestrians Have the Right of Way in California?

Monday, May 21, 2018

Many Californians, particularly in urban areas, choose to walk or ride their bikes in lieu of driving to their destination. Commuting by foot or bike can save money, provide convenience, and save time on the hassle of heavy traffic. However, some pedestrian conduct raises important questions about liability following an accident. Do pedestrians always have the right-of-way in California? Who will be liable for injuries a pedestrian sustains in an accident? Here’s everything you need to know but if you have additional questions, reach out to a skilled Bakersfield pedestrian accident lawyer.

When a Pedestrian Has the Right-Of-Way

You may have heard that the pedestrian always has the right-of-way. This statement, however, is exactly that: a saying, not a matter of law. In reality, the law is more complex than that.

In the most obvious cases, the pedestrian does have the right-of-way. This applies, for example, when a pedestrian is crossing at a crosswalk at a red light. One of the most common kinds of pedestrian injury – for which a driver is at fault – is when a driver turns right or left into a pedestrian who has the right-of-way. Here, liability for the accident is clear: a motorist will be responsible for the injuries that the pedestrian incurs since he or she was crossing at a crosswalk with a stop sign or traffic signal.

What about less obvious circumstances? What happens when a pedestrian sustains an injury while crossing at an unmarked crosswalk? Or while walking in the middle of the street? This is where the law becomes less clear.

California Laws Regarding Pedestrians

The California Vehicle Code sets basic rules for pedestrians and drivers who navigate around them. The law states a few things:

  • The driver must yield to any pedestrian within a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.
  • The driver must also use reasonable care and diligence to prevent pedestrian accidents and safeguard anyone who walks or rides their bike around them.

These laws have a few implications following a pedestrian accident. Here are some examples:

  • A motorist may be liable for a pedestrian accident that occurs on the roadway, even if it’s not a crosswalk. For example, a motorist will likely be liable for striking and injuring a biker who is riding on the shoulder, since he or she has an obligation to prevent an accident. If the driver was speeding or distracted, he or she will likely be responsible for the cyclist’s injuries, even if not on a crosswalk.
  • A motorist must yield to pedestrians at crosswalks that are not at intersections. Ultimately, if a pedestrian uses a marked or unmarked crosswalk, he or she has the right-of-way.

Pedestrian Responsibilities

On the other hand, pedestrians do not always have the right-of-way. According to the California Vehicle Code, pedestrians cannot leave a place of safety, such as a sidewalk, to run into the path of a moving vehicle such that it constitutes an “immediate hazard.” But what does this mean, exactly?

  • Pedestrians may be liable for their own injuries if they jaywalk. Running out into the street without a crosswalk is against the law, and a driver may not be civilly responsible for any damages he or she causes.
  • Pedestrians must use extra caution at late night crossings. They must remain as visible as possible and keep to crosswalks. A pedestrian should never assume right-of-way at night and allow plenty of time to cross.

Both pedestrians and motorists have certain rights and responsibilities on the roadways. Motorists have a high duty of care to pedestrians and must take steps to reasonably assure their safety. At the same time, pedestrians must also follow all traffic laws, avoid jaywalking, and stick to crossing at crosswalks.

Posted by highrank at 9:19 pm

California Parental Responsibility Laws

Monday, May 14, 2018

We would all like to think that our children always behave like perfect angels. On the other hand, we know that our kids act out on occasion. Did you know that you could be civilly liable for any damage your minor child causes? Learn about parental responsibility laws and how the state of California handles damage caused by minors.

Like many other states, California has a number of parental responsibility laws on the books that make parents liable for any damages that result from their minor’s actions. We can break these laws down into two separate categories:

Willful Misconduct

First, parents may be responsible for any “willful misconduct” of a minor leading to property damage or injury. Under California Civil Code 1714.1, any act of misconduct by a minor that leads to injury, death, or property damage will be the financial and civil responsibility of the parent or legal guardian. A custodial parent or guardian may be jointly liable with the minor for $25,000 per wrongful act. This is the latest estimate, though the dollar amount may change to reflect inflation, cost of living, and other elements.

The $25,000 per wrongful act can apply to medical bills and other economic damages, but do not apply to intangible losses such as pain and suffering. The $25,000 dollar rule also applies to property damage such as graffiti or defacement of public property.

Keep in mind that these rules only apply to a minor’s “willful misconduct.” In other words, a parent might be civilly liable if his or her child starts a fight and breaks another child’s arm. On the other hand, parents will likely not be liable if their student-athlete breaks another’s arm while completing a legal tackle on the football field.

Parental Liability and Minor Driving Rules

The other main parental responsibility law pertains to a minor’s use of a motor vehicle. According to the California Vehicle Code, a parent may be civilly liable for any damages his or her child incurs while driving a motor vehicle. California law requires that a parent or legal guardian sign a driver’s license application for anyone under the age of 18, so parents can be – and likely will be – liable for any damages from a car accident in which their minor is at fault.

The California Vehicle Code also states that a parent can be potentially liable for any foreseeable damages when they give a minor implied or express consent to drive a vehicle. These statutes vary from California’s willful misconduct laws in a couple of different ways:

  • The minor’s intent does not apply. With the “willful conduct” parental responsibility law, the parents will only be liable if a minor’s intentional conduct leads to injury of property damage. In a car accident, however, a parent will be liable for any injuries a minor causes, even if it was “just an accident.”
  • Damage caps do not apply. With the “willful conduct” statute, a parent may only be liable for economic damages up to $25,000 per wrongful act. In a car accident, a parent may be responsible for any damages stemming from the accident – including not only economic damages, but intangible losses, as well.

Parents in California have a responsibility to keep their children reasonably safe, but also to protect property and people from their child’s behavior. If a minor child causes property damage, injury, or death – whether through a car accident or their own willful actions – parents can be civilly liable for the damages that result. To reduce your risk of liability, talk to your child about safe driving practices and tackle any potentially problematic behaviors as they arise.

Posted by highrank at 9:07 pm

California Truck Lane Restrictions

Monday, October 23, 2017

It is an unfortunate reality that smaller, lighter passenger vehicles must drive alongside large, heavy commercial trucks to fuel America’s economy. Big rigs can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, while the average passenger vehicle weighs just 3,500 pounds. The immense size difference between the two can lead to major damage to the smaller car and its passengers in a collision. The State of California strives to reduce the number of truck accidents on its highways by enacting truck lane restrictions. Learning the law can help you stay as far away as possible from large trucks when on California’s highways.

Truck-Only Lanes in California

Very few truck-only lanes exist throughout the country. In most states, large trucks and passenger vehicles must intermingle, but trucks must simply stay out of the left lane on certain highways. California, however, has two truck-only lanes in existence and more potentially on the way. As of now, the two lanes that only trucks may operate in are as follows:

  • Northbound and southbound 1-5 in LA County at the State Route 14 split. The truck lane begins as two roads, northbound at LA County postmile C043.925 and southbound at postmile C043.899. Both roads meet at postmile C044.924. These trucks lanes separate slower-moving large trucks from the general traffic that moves faster. The roads run 2.426 miles northbound and 2.452 southbound. This truck-only road has been in existence for about 30 years.
  • Southbound I-5 in Kern County at the State Route 99 junction. On Route 99 near the Grapevine, postmile L000.629, a truck-only lane begins. The lane continues for 0.346 miles until I-5 at postmile R-15.492. The point of the lane is to allow large trucks to merge farther downstream of where other vehicles merge between I-5 and State Route 99. This truck-only lane could potentially prevent collisions between trucks and smaller vehicles in an already difficult merge area.

All large trucks must travel in truck-only lanes when they arise. There are black and white highway signs indicating where truck-only lanes begin and end. These are enforceable signs that all truck drivers must obey. Failure to use truck-only lanes when available can result in fines. Passenger vehicles may technically drive in truck-only lanes, but green highways signs encourage them not to do so. Since the signs are green, they are not enforceable.

Large Trucks in the Left Lane

California sees a particularly large number of commercial trucks on its roadways. For this reason, the state has enacted somewhat strict rules when it comes to large trucks on the highway. California is one of few states with a law that prohibits “motor trucks, truck tractors with three axles or more, and truck tractors pulling vehicles” from driving in the left-hand lane while on the highway. These slower-moving vehicles must remain in the right-hand lane or the second-right-hand lane if on a highway with four lanes of traffic moving in the same direction.

If a large truck disobeys lane restrictions, the driver could receive fines of up to $250 for a third offense within one year. Any slower-moving vehicle, regardless of size, must use the furthest right-hand lane while driving in California, except when passing or making a left turn. The California Highway Patrol enforces truck lane restrictions and will stop large trucks should they disobey the law.

Posted by highrank at 5:29 pm

Are Trucks Allowed to Drive in the Left Lane?

Monday, October 16, 2017

You’re driving down the 58, maintaining the speed limit in the far-left lane. You’re going to be just on time for work. Suddenly, a large commercial truck merges into the lane in front of you. You hit your brakes to accommodate the slower speed and are annoyed because now you’ll be late for work or have to pass the big rig using the middle lane. More importantly, a truck driver who broke California’s roadway laws has put you in a potentially dangerous position. Here’s what you need to know about trucks in the left lane in The Golden State. For more information, speak with an experienced Bakersfield truck accident lawyer.

Rules of the Road for Truckers

California Vehicle Code Section 21654 states that any vehicle traveling on a highway at less than the average speed of moving traffic must drive in the right-hand lane, as close as possible to the right-hand edge or curb. The only time a slower-moving vehicle can leave the right-hand lane is to overtake and pass a different vehicle traveling along the same directional path, or if preparing to make a left-hand exit or turn. This law applies to all large trucks (those with three axles or more).

In California, motor trucks, truck tractors with at least three axles, and truck tractors pulling another vehicle must use designated truck lanes at all times if they exist. They cannot come out of designated lanes unless passing or turning. If no designated lane exists on the roadway, the truck must remain in the farthest right-hand lane, or the second-to-right-hand lane if the highway has four or more lanes of traffic moving in the same direction. To pass, a truck must use the designated lane, right-hand lane, or second-to-right lane.

If a large truck drives in the left lane, the driver has broken a California roadway law and may face penalties. For a first offense, the driver may face fines of up to $100. If the driver receives a second offense within one year, the fine is up to $200. For a third offense in one year, the fine increases to $250. These are steep fines compared to similar laws in other states. The only evidence law enforcement needs to charge a driver with this infraction is that the vehicle was traveling at a slower speed than the rest of traffic in the same direction and was driving in the left-hand lane.

Dangers of Trucks in the Left Lane

There is a reason that all highways use the rule that faster-moving vehicles use the left lane, and slower-moving vehicles use the right lane. On a multilane highway, dividing the vehicles based on speed increases the safety and efficiency of the road. Drivers can easily become frustrated if they’re stuck behind a slower moving vehicle, and the situation could end in road rage.

Too many drivers in the fast lane can create a major highway problem, with sudden and unexpected changes in speed and rear-end collisions. If a large truck merges into the far-left lane, it will slow down traffic and cause other drivers to weave in and out of traffic lanes to pass the truck. This increases the risk of a potentially severe car accident. If you see a large truck in the left lane in California, consider calling Highway Patrol to report the truck and its driver.

Posted by highrank at 5:25 pm

California’s Motorcycle Helmet Law

Monday, October 9, 2017

As a motorcyclist in California, it’s your duty to know the laws that apply to you and obey them. It’s also your right to stand up for yourself when you know you were following the rules and still ended up in an accident. Having a thorough understanding of California’s motorcycle helmet law can give you confidence and control when you hit the open road and a solid foundation should you need to hire a Bakersfield motorcycle accident lawyer and file a personal injury claim. You’ll know exactly when you were in the right. Here’s an overview of what you should know.

Do You Need a Helmet in California?

Yes. California is one of 19 states that require all motorcyclists to wear helmets. California Vehicle Code Section 27803 states that a driver and any passenger shall wear a helmet that meets federal safety standards when riding on a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle. It is unlawful for a driver or a passenger not to wear a helmet at any time while on a motorcycle in California. The law applies to motorcyclists on rural and urban roads and highways. It is a statewide, universal law that applies to all ages.

“Wearing a safety helmet,” means the helmet must comply with federal laws, and fit snugly on your head. Look for the Department of Transportation (DOT) sticker when purchasing a helmet, or another indication that the manufacturer complied with federal safety standards in the creation of the helmet. The helmet must be of a size that fits the wearer’s head securely, without excessive movement, and fastened with helmet straps. The law does not apply to those on fully enclosed three-wheel motor vehicles over seven feet in length and four feet in width.

While California’s current law makes it mandatory for everyone to wear a motorcycle helmet, the law could be changing in the future. In 2011, Assemblyman Chris Norby introduced Assembly Bill 695. AB 695 proposes an amendment to the existing motorcycle helmet law, wherein a person who is 21 years or older who has either completed a safety training program or received authorization to operate the vehicle with a class M1 license or endorsement for two or more years would not have to wear a motorcycle helmet. This amendment is currently pending.

Penalties for Not Wearing a Helmet

Motorcyclists and their passengers can face fines and penalties for failing to wear approved helmets while operating in California. The law states that an enforcement officer has the right to either charge the individual with a simple equipment violation or a greater penalty. An equipment violation is a $10 fine with a proof of correction, according to the California Vehicle Code. The California Highway Patrol, however, states that a violation of the helmet law is an immediate safety hazard and is therefore not correctable.

If the officer were to follow the CHP’s guidelines, you could face up to $250 in fines and one year of probation. It’s largely up to the arresting officer, as the laws are unclear. Avoid any penalties and protect your personal safety by wearing a motorcycle helmet in California. It’s currently the law, and it could save your life.

Posted by highrank at 5:19 pm

Do You Have to Pay Taxes on a Settlement?

Monday, September 18, 2017

If you resolve your personal injury claim with a settlement between yourself and the other party, first, enjoy your victory. Then, think about the large sum of money you are about to receive. You will have to pay your attorney’s fees and any court costs in most cases, on top of using the settlement to pay for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. Finding out you also have to pay taxes on your settlement could really make the glow of victory dim. Luckily, personal injury settlements are largely tax-free.

Federal and State Settlement Taxation

As a general rule, neither the federal nor the state government can impose taxes on the proceeds you receive from a personal injury claim. Claim proceeds are more or less tax-free, whether you settled your claim or went to trial to get a jury verdict. The federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the California state government cannot tax settlements in most cases. There are, however, exceptions to this rule. You may face taxation on the following:

  • Breach of contract settlements or awards. If a breach of contract caused your injuries or physical illness, and the breach is the basis of your lawsuit, the government has the right to tax any damages you receive.
  • Punitive damages. Punitive damages, or those awarded for the sole purpose of punishing the defendant, are taxable in California. Your Bakersfield attorney will ask the judge or jury to separate the verdict or settlement into punitive and compensatory damages. That way, the IRS will only tax you for the punitive damages.
  • Lost wages. This economic damage award is typically taxable since the government sees it as money you would have had to pay taxes on were it not for the injury. Since your normal wages would have been taxes, your lost wage award will be as well. The IRS has the right to impose the taxation of your award as it sees fit.
  • Interest on judgment. If the court adds interest to the verdict for the amount of time the claim has been pending, the government may tax this portion of your award or settlement. For example, you may have to pay taxes on interest you receive for a claim you brought in 2014 that did not resolve until 2017.

Keep in mind that the only non-taxable claim settlements are those that arise from physical injury or illness claims. If your lawsuit deals with emotional distress or employment discrimination, the government will tax your settlement. You may be able to elude taxation if you can prove even the smallest amount of physical injury. A lawyer may be able to help you with this burden of proof and ensure you receive a non-taxable settlement as much as possible.

How to Pay Settlement Taxes

If part or all of your settlement is taxable, the government will tax it as though it were part of your ordinary income. You will have to list all applicable awards on your annual tax return statement and pay tax on in the amount of your personal income tax rate. Work with a tax specialist if you have a particularly large or complex personal injury settlement. Your attorney can also help you understand the specific tax repercussions of your settlement or jury verdict.

Posted by highrank at 4:59 pm

What Is a Third Party Car Insurance Claim?

Monday, September 11, 2017

California is a fault state when it comes to car accidents, meaning the injured party must prove the other party’s fault before that person’s insurance will cover damages. After many car accidents in California, injured parties will submit claims to insurance companies other than their own. This might be the case, for example, if the other party caused the crash. Filing a claim with an insurer other than one’s own is a “third-party claim.” It is a common type of claim that leads to a slightly different insurance process.

The Third-Party Claims Process

When you’re involved in a car accident in California, your first instinct may be to call your own insurance company to report the crash. If you weren’t at fault for the accident, however, you should first contact the insurance company of the at-fault driver or other individual or entity. This is why it’s important to always stop and collect the information of the other driver after an accident. The other driver may not have admitted fault at the scene, but, if you believe he or she is to blame, contact the driver’s insurer before contacting your own.

Report the accident to the other driver’s insurer. Stick purely to the facts of the case, and give short answers to the representative’s questions. The insurance agent assigned to your case, known as the claims adjuster, will have the goal of getting you to settle for as little as possible. The adjuster may offer a settlement within the first one or two phone calls if the other driver was at fault. Resist the urge to accept these offers. First, talk to a Bakersfield car accident attorney about the real value of your car accident claim.

When you make a third-party insurance claim, the company will try to save money by offering a low-ball settlement award. The company may tempt you to take the settlement, saying that it’s a fast way to get your hands on the money. However, your injuries and property damage could garner a much greater verdict or award in a personal injury claim. It’s typically wise to reject at least the first offer but talk to your attorney first. A car insurance lawyer can help you choose the best path for your unique wishes, and negotiate with a third-party insurer.

Tips for Third-Party Insurance Claims

Be wary when talking to insurance adjusters over the phone. The insurance claims adjuster works for the company, not for you. An adjuster often sees several cases per month. He or she will likely know less about your claim than you do. Keep your answers short when conversing with the other driver’s insurance company. Stay truthful, but do not offer up information that the adjuster does not request.

Do not agree to record any statements over the phone. The insurance company can use what you say against you. Talk to a lawyer if you have any doubts about dealing with insurance claims adjusters. If the other driver’s insurance company denies your claim, you can begin the appeals process. Study the policy in question to learn how to appeal the company’s decision. The appeals process can be complex and often comes down to something in the policy that bars you from recovery in certain scenarios. Retaining an insurance attorney can help you navigate these issues.

Posted by highrank at 4:48 pm

Car Safety Inspections in California

Monday, August 14, 2017

Every state has unique laws concerning vehicle safety inspections, and California has a few special considerations not seen in other states. All California drivers, especially those moving to or driving in the state for the first time, need to understand their obligations as drivers when it comes to vehicle safety inspections. California drivers also need to understand smog inspections and make sure they have them done as required. If you were involved in an auto accident in California, the Bakersfield car accident lawyers at Rodriguez & Associates can meet with you to discuss the possibility of the other driver being at fault for operating a vehicle in a state of disrepair.

Typical annual car safety inspections include checking for a vehicle’s carbon emissions, leaks, fluid levels, and mechanical integrity. These inspections help keep dangerous cars off the road and ensure drivers are not posing a danger to themselves, other drivers, or the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for establishing and enforcing emissions regulations in the United States. Drivers must ensure their cars meet EPA standards and all other requirements set forth by state law. California’s smog inspection requirements are the result of the state’s near-legendary pollution levels, and only certain vehicles require these inspections.

California Smog Inspections

Most California vehicles from model year 1976 or newer will require biennial smog inspections for each registration renewal. Vehicles that are six model years or less old are exempt from smog inspections, but owners must pay an annual smog abatement fee for the first six registration years. Additionally, diesel-powered vehicles from model year 1998 or newer with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 14,000 pounds or less are exempt from smog inspections as well. Drivers who transfer vehicle registrations in California will not need smog inspections as long as the vehicle is four or less years old, but this rule does not apply to diesel vehicles.

Other vehicles exempt from the smog certification requirements include:

  • Electric vehicles.
  • Natural gas-powered vehicles with GVWR less than 14,000 lbs.
  • Gasoline-powered vehicles from the model year 1975 or older.
  • Diesel-powered vehicles from model year 1997 or older with a GVWR less than 14,000 lbs.

If a California vehicle owner wishes to sell a vehicle to another driver, the seller must provide a valid smog inspection certification at the time of transfer or sale. A smog inspection certificate is good for 90 days from the inspection date, and some drivers will need to provide biennial smog inspection reports. It’s important to understand the registration and smog inspection requirements at the county and zip code level as well. A smog inspection is only valid if it takes place at a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) -approved service center.

Ensure Your Compliance

Many vehicle owners sell their cars and buy new ones from other private sellers every day in California. While there is nothing wrong with legitimate good business, both buyers and sellers need to be aware of a vehicle’s model year, inspection requirements, and smog inspection record before agreeing to a sale. Anyone who is unsure about the registration requirements should contact their local DMV office for more information. The California DMV can also be an excellent resource for questions concerning legal title transfers, private vehicle sales, smog inspection certifications, and more.

Posted by highrank at 3:33 pm