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Driving Into The New Year With The New Laws

The new year brings new expectations, new commitments and of course, some new driving laws.

I tried to think of the reasons one might have for driving with another human being in the trunk of their car, and I could only come up with two possible scenarios.

Scenario No. 1: Someone really needs to purchase a roomier vehicle.

Scenario No. 2: Well, let's just say there's a chance I've watched one too many episodes of "The Sopranos."

Apparently, driving with another person in one's trunk was common enough that the Legislature felt it necessary to pen a new law about the practice. Not only will the driver receive a negligent operator point for driving with a passenger in the trunk, but both the driver and the passenger will receive a fine. That is assuming, of course, that the passenger was in the trunk due to Scenario No. 1, and not No. 2.

I have always had great respect for commercial-class drivers. Since they transport 98 percent of California's manufactured goods and 99 percent of our agricultural goods, my philosophy has always been that without our commercial-class drivers, we would all be naked and hungry.

This year there are some significant new laws for those with a commercial driver's license.

Whether driving a passenger vehicle or a commercial vehicle, a first conviction for driving under the influence or for leaving the scene of an accident for someone who possesses a commercial class license will result in the disqualification of the commercial driving privilege for one year.

Also, the law now requires California to report convictions of commercial driver traffic violations to the home state of the driver for sanctioning purposes.

Tommy the Tagger would be wise to leave his spray paint at home this year if he ever plans on getting behind the wheel. The courts may now suspend for up to two years the driver's license of anyone convicted of graffiti or vandalism. And if the perpetrator has yet to receive a driver's license, the issuance can be delayed for one to three years.

There are stronger punitive consequences for fast and furious drivers in 2007. Anyone who engages in speed contests or reckless driving will now face increased penalties for a first conviction if anyone other than the driver suffers specific injuries during their illegal actions.

The good news is that you still have until summer 2008 before the new cell phone law goes into effect. However, you might want to get a head start and spring for that hands-free device now, before the big rush. Besides, those awkward little ear piece devices take a little getting used to.

It takes even longer to get used to everyone looking at you like you are slightly unbalanced as you drive and appear to be having an in-depth conversation with yourself.

Michelle Groh-Gordy is the owner of InterActive! Traffic School Online at , and writes a syndicated weekly column on driving for the publications of the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.