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Snapshot of New Laws 

by Debra A. Newby

As we embrace a New Year, I thought it would be fun to highlight some of the new laws that our California Legislature passed. Keep in mind that approximately 898 Assembly Bills (AB) and Senate Bills (SB) collectively passed and were then signed by Governor Brown. Below is only the tip of the iceberg, in no particular order. I have referenced the bill number, so if you would like to read the full text of the new law, go to, click on “Bill Information” and then enter the bill number. 

Cell Phones (AB 1785): One swipe or one tap of your cell phone while driving—that is all you get. If you have an older car, you will now have to mount your cell phone near the windshield, dashboard, or center console, making sure that the driver’s view is not blocked. 

EpiPens (AB 1386): EpiPens, commonly used for an allergic reaction, can be a life-saving tool. If you are a college or private business, consult with your local pharmacist to determine your eligibility to receive EpiPens for your students/patrons. One factor is whether you have a plan in place to use the EpiPen. 

Youth Sports (AB 2007): If your child is under 17 and participates in a youth sport organization, the organization/coach must notify the parent or guardian if the child athlete is removed from an activity because of a suspected concussion. Good call. 

Sexual Assaults (AB 2888): In a brave and swift reaction to the Stanford rape case, if the perpetrator of a sexual assault crime assaults an unconsciousness or severely intoxicated victim, then the criminal is ineligible for probation. Period. No lax sentences here. Bravo for the Jane Doe who gave victims a voice.

Car-Seats (AB 53): If your child is under two years old, that mandatory car seat must now be rear-facing. Also, children under the age of eight must ride in the back seat. 

Dope in the Workplace (Prop 64): Although California legalized the recreational use of marijuana, employers can still impose anti-drug work place rules, such as pre-employment drug testing and policies that bar employees from imbibing prior to or on the job. 

Minimum Wage (SB 3): The minimum wage is finally being raised…sort of. It was raised from $10.00 per hour to $10.50 per hour, with the goal of $15.00 per hour by 2022. Still not enough moolah to survive in what Luther Burbank describes as “Paradise”…our lovely and unique Sonoma County. 

Beauty Salons – Serving Beer and Wine (AB 1322): Hair salons and barber shops can now legally serve their clients beer and/or wine, up until 10:00 pm, as long as there is no extra charge. Free alcohol with a trim! My hairstylist, Diane Cannata, at The Color Room in Railroad Square, will be thrilled to add this service to her repertoire of talents. 

Homeless Community College Students (AB 1995): A sad reality continues to creep into our society – the face of the homeless person could easily be someone you know. If you are a student enrolled and in good standing in a California community college, and find yourself without a home, then the community college must allow you to use their shower and bathroom facilities. Makes sense. Cleanse the body. Free the mind. 

Voting Rights for Felons (AB 2466): If you found yourself in trouble with the law, and were facing a “low-level” felony where you served time outside of prison, you may be eligible to regain your right to vote. Check with your local registrar of voters. For Sonoma County, call 707-565-6800. 

Dogs in Locked Cars (AB 797): For that careless dog owner who locks their dog in a car on a sweltering day…beware. You may return to your car with a broken window or car door, for now a Good Samaritan can “liberate” the suffering animal, but must first call and wait for law enforcement to arrive on the scene. 

Happy New Year to all my readers. Let’s enter 2017 with a renewed sense of kindness and joy toward one another.

Debra A. Newby is a resident of Monte Rio and has practiced law for 34 years. She is a member of the California, Texas and Sonoma County Bar Associations and currently maintains an active law office in Santa Rosa which emphasizes personal injury law (bicycle/motorcycle/motor vehicle accidents, dog bites, trip and falls, etc.) and expungements (clearing criminal records). Debra can be reached via email (, phone (707-526-7200), or fax (526-7202).