car seat laws california

Did You Hear about This Change to Kids Car Seats?

car seat laws california

Any experienced parent will tell you that kids need different kinds of car seats at different ages. As the child grows, they need different styles of car seats until they are finally big enough to sit in the seat without any additional device. For a long time, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that children should remain in rear-facing car seats until they are 2 years old. However, that has now changed.

Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics changed their recommendation and eliminated the age limit. Now they say that a child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until they weigh over 40 pounds. The lead author of the updated rule said: “It’s best to keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. This is still the safest way for children to ride.”

This change breaks a long held rule, largely due to the fact that manufactures of car seats are now making rear-facing seats that can support children up to 40 pounds. Since this is the best way for children to travel, the Academy changed the long standing rule.

According to the academy, using the right kinds of car seat for a child can reduce the risk of serious injury or death by 70%. That is not a number that should be ignored by parents. Furthermore, the Academy goes on to list when kids should be moved from one style of car seat to the next.

  • Rear-facing seat – Up to 40 pounds.
  • Safety seat with harnesses – Up to 65 pounds.
  • Belt positioning booster seat – Until the child is 4 feet 9 inches tall.

Parents should follow these guidelines, as well as the recommendations in the car seat’s safety manual to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their child while driving.

preventing fires

No Butts about It

preventing fires

Every Californian knows that wildfires in the state are a pretty big deal. This is only reinforced by the fact that 2018 has been one of the worst years for wildfires in the state to date. This year, the Mendocino Complex Fire became the largest wildfire to ever burn across the state. The blaze scorched 459,123 acres, and is estimated to have burned hundreds of structures, uprooting the lives of many people.

This is the perfect reminder that we all need to do our part in preventing blazes like this from even starting. One such way to do that is by properly disposing of cigarettes finished. Throwing cigarette butts onto the ground or out of a car window is a fairly common practice. After all, just about everyone has seen cigarette butts lying discarded on the ground.

The problem with this, besides the fact that it is littering, is that these butts are often still lit when discarded. If one were to fall in to some paper or dry brush, they could easily spark a blaze. If you think this is too farfetched, think again. Dozens of fires are started around the world annually by discarded cigarette butts. It is a real problem that people need to be made aware of.

Properly disposing of used cigarettes can greatly reduce the risk of them starting a fire. Finished cigarette butts should be extinguished and placed in ashtrays. This way, they cannot fall into any sort of kindling and spark the next big blaze in California.

Wildfires are a big deal in this state, and every resident needs to do their part to keep California from burning up.

what happens when your dog bites

What Happens if a Dog Bites Someone?

what happens when your dog bites

Just about everyone enjoys having a bit of companionship. One of the great ways to do this is by acquiring a pet. However, owning a pet isn’t easy. As a pet owner, a person is responsible for keeping the animal alive, safe, and in healthy condition. It is a big responsibility that is not meant for everyone. Some animals, such as dogs, are more work than others.

Aside from simply ensuring that a dog is well cared for, a dog owner needs to also make sure that their animal does not harm another individual. The state of California has several laws about dogs that an owner needs to be aware of. Some of the more prominent ones revolve around the fact that if the owner isn’t careful, they could end up in some serious legal trouble. That is something that nobody wants.

Dog Bites

Dogs are often friendly creatures who just want to make friends. Sometimes they get a bit too excited and take things a little too far. When this happens, there is a possibility that someone get hurt. Dog bites can hurt quite a bit, and nobody wants to experience that kind of pain. Every year, an estimated 850,000 people are bitten big dogs hard enough to warrant going to the hospital. Of those hundreds of thousands of people, 350,000 are sent to emergency rooms. This is why the state of California has laws set in place to protect victims of dog bites.

California’s Strict Liability Laws

In some states, a dog owner is only liable when their dog bites someone if they knew the dog had a bad temperament or had a history of biting people in the past. In these instances, the dog owner knew the risk of letting their dog near people, and still someone got hurt.

California is not one of those states.

The state of California is known as a strict liability state when it comes to dog bite laws. What this means is that a dog owner is always responsible for injuries caused by their dog biting someone. This basically means that a dog owner needs to keep a close eye on their dog, regardless of the creature’s temperament.

In California, if a dog bites another person, or even another animal, the owner is liable for the damages. This means that the victim of the dog bite could rightfully sue the dog owner for legal compensation. This can very easily amount to thousands of dollars, which is why it is so important for an owner to keep an eye on their pet and take care to ensure it stays in its yard.

The Exception to the Bite Law

The exception to California’s dog biting laws occurs when a dog bites someone that is trespassing. This is seen either as the dog defending its owner’s territory, or a person breaking into a secured area where a possibly dangerous animal may be held. In both instances, the owner will not get in trouble with the law. Instead, the bite victim will likely be charged with trespassing charges, all the while having to deal with what could be a very painful wound.

What about Dangerous Dogs?

The state of California also has laws against dogs that are considered potentially dangerous or vicious. While these two terms are similar to one another, the state regards them as two separate descriptions, with vicious being a step up from potentially dangerous.

A potentially dangerous dog is one that:

  • Forced a person to defend themselves from aggressive behaviors of the animal.
  • Bit someone without being provoked.
  • Killed or harmed a domesticated animal twice in the last three years.

A vicious dog is one that:

  • Killed or injured a person without being provoked.
  • Was deemed dangerous by a court and either the owner failed to take reasonable precautions or the dog repeated the dangerous behavior.

An owner of a dangerous dog is required by state law to take reasonable steps to ensure that another dog bite incident does not occur. Failing that, the owner could face criminal charges. If a dangerous dog bites and injures another person, the owner could face either misdemeanor or felony charges. If the dog kills someone, the owner will face felony charges.

It Is a Lot of Responsibility

Owning a dog is not for everyone. Aside from their more demanding and needy nature, dogs also have the potential to cause some serious harm to individuals. If a dog does bite someone in the state of California, then the owner is liable and could even face criminal charges. If a person is looking to get a dog, they need to make sure they are ready to handle all of the legal responsibilities that come from owning one.

at what age can your child walk to school

At What Age Can Your Child Walk to School Alone?

at what age can your child walk to school

One of the great things about living close to your child’s school is that your kids can walk rather than ride the bus. The problem many parents face is knowing how old their kids should be before allowing this to happen.

A new federal law, Every Student Succeeds Act, means you no longer have to worry about being declared an unfit parent when you let your four or five-year-old walk to school by themselves. The act was sponsored by Mike Lee, a Senator from Utah, who has always been a fan of the Free Range Kids movement.

The idea behind the law is that if a parent feels that their child is responsible enough to handle the walk to school by themselves, then they should be allowed to do so. The law will be especially welcome in school districts where the buses don’t pick up kids who live within city limits. Now those parents don’t have to drive their young child to school.

It’s important to note that while the Federal law now states that even young preschoolers and kindergarteners are free to walk on their own, that doesn’t override any local laws that are already in place. If the city or township you live in states that kids under a certain age isn’t allowed to walk to school, you still need to adhere to the law.

As a parent, you need to decide if your young child should be walking to and from school by themselves. Factors that need to be taken into consideration include:

  • How safe the neighborhood is. It’s not a bad idea to talk to local cops and get their opinion on letting your children walk to school by themselves
  • How good your child is about paying attention to traffic and staying away from strangers
  • Weather conditions
  • How far away the school is

One of the things that many parents find works quite well for their young children is arranging for a group of children in the neighborhood to walk together. Not only does this help keep all the kids safe during the walk to and from school, but it also helps forge long lasting friendships.

If you’re letting your kids walk to and from school, it’s a good idea to make sure that they’re wearing a reflective vest, especially in the morning when it’s often still dark as kids head to school. You should also create rules about how long it takes them to get to and from school. It’s also a good idea to walk the route with your child a few times so that they know the safest way to travel and are aware of crosswalks. Send your child along the route that puts them in contact with crossing guards.

Again, before letting your young child walk to school, check out the local laws. Hopefully, the new Federal law will encourage local lawmakers to reevaluate when young children are old enough to walk on their own and pass their own laws that are similar to the Federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

pulling over for first responders

Laws Regarding Emergency Vehicle On The Road

pulling over for first responders

While and emergency may not happen to you on a daily basis, they do happen pretty frequently around the world. This leads to quite a lot of first responders rushing off to save the day. This, in turn, means that a lot of drivers have encountered an emergency vehicle rushing by them on the road.

Many drivers know that when they hear the sirens and see the flashing lights they need to get out of the way. However, not every driver follows this law. Some drivers don’t realize that they are in fact required by law to move out of the way. This can cause problems for the emergency problems for the first responders and get a person in big trouble.

What is the Law?

Here in the state of California, all drivers are required to move out of the way of emergencies vehicles that are on their way to an emergency. Basically, this means that any time an emergency vehicle is approaching with its lights flashing and siren blaring, the driver needs to pull over to the side. This is required by California Vehicle Code 21806.

Under VC 21806 all traffic within 1,000 feet of an emergency vehicle with flashing lights and sirens should immediately pull over to the right of the road, as soon as it is safe to do so. A driver should move over in a safe manner and should not block any intersections. The driver then needs to remain to the side of the road until the vehicle has passed.

If a person is driving on a freeway and an emergency vehicle comes up behind them with their lights on, the vehicle still needs to move to the right. If the driver is currently in a sectioned off lane, such as a carpool lane, they have to move out of the way. They are legally allowed to cross over a double yellow line in order to do so.

Even street cars and trolleys have to “pull over.” Since these vehicles can’t pull over due to the fact that they are on rails, this basically means that vehicle has to come to a complete stop wherever it is, provided it does not stop in an intersection.

Consequences for Not Moving Over

If a driver does not move out of the way, tries to stay in front of, or tries to follow immediately behind and emergency vehicle, they can be ticketed. A first time violation of California Vehicle Code 21806 can earn a person a minimum fine of $490 fine. This doesn’t include any fees that may also be tacked onto the price. The person will also receive a point on their DMV record.

California uses a point system to keep track of drivers and make sure they follow the rules of the road. If a driver acquires too many points on their record within too short of a time, they could face higher insurance rates and run the risk of losing their driver’s license.

What about Getting Pulled Over?

Another time that a person may see flashing lights while driving is when they are getting pulled over for a traffic violation. The driver could have broken any number of laws, ranging from having a broken taillight to speeding. No matter the reason behind the action, the result is the same.

When a person sees a law enforcement vehicle approach from behind with flashing lights, they need to move over to the right. If the vehicle continues to follow the driver, then they are being pulled over. They need to either pullover to the right side of the road, or exit the freeway and then pullover. The officer will likely use a loudspeaker to direct the driver on what to do. The driver should follow all of the officer’s instructions.

Emergency Vehicles Get Right of Way

When it comes to emergency vehicles with flashing lights, they always get the right of way no matter the situation. Drivers should always yield to emergency vehicles. The same even goes for pedestrians. Pedestrians should never try to cross a road when an emergency vehicle is approaching.

The reason behind all of this is that these vehicles are on their way to deal with very important things. The occupants of the vehicles are first responders to emergency situations and time is critical for them. The extra second they have to wait for someone to get out of the way could cost someone else their life. That is why it is always important to get out of the way of an emergency vehicle that has its lights flashing and sirens blarring.

hate speech laws

Are Your Words Offensive?

hate speech laws

As Americans we love our freedom, and one of our favorite freedoms is our freedom of speech. This is granted to us by the First Amendment of the US Constitution. The amendment allows us to speak our minds, practice any religion, and protest. The internet now allows us to exercise our First Amendment right daily and anywhere we’d like. The problem is that the internet is still a new world and no one is quite sure how to handle it yet.

The First Amendment protects people who we don’t necessarily want to protect. Website that may contain what could be considered hate speech are protected under the First Amendment. These sites can say horrible things, but are still allowed to exist so long as they do not incite violence or are what is referred to as a true threat. A true threat is classified as statements where the speaker means to communicate a serious expression of intent to commit an act of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals. As long as websites don’t cross that line they are protected under the First Amendment just like everyone else.

All freedom comes with a price, and the freedom of speech comes at the cost of allowing hate speech to exist. Hate speech, according to the American Bar Association is, “speech that offends, threatens, or insults groups, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits.” While being able to speak our minds freely, without fear of repercussion for a difference in opinions is good, not everyone has something nice to say. Many people out there don’t follow the age old adage of: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

There will always be pros and cons to everything in life. While it may be good to allow people the freedom of speech, we have to be willing to acknowledge the bad that comes with it. Without freedom of speech we would be living in a completely different world. Speeches like Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream,” would have never occurred if we didn’t have the First Amendment in our country’s Constitution.

preventing wildfires in california

7 Tips for Preventing Wildfires

preventing wildfires in california

All Californians know that it is that time of year once again. Fire season is upon us. California has a tendency to have a hot, dry climate in summer. This can make it very easy for fires to break out and roar across the state. While winds may help cool us down, they only fan the flames, helping them spread farther, faster.

During this time of year it is very important that every Californian be more cautious with everything they do. One wrong move can start up a wildfire and cause thousands of dollars in damage. Nobody wants to be the one responsible for that.

The following are some tips we have gathered to help prevent wildfires in the first place.

  • When setting up campfires, be sure to check local laws to make sure they are allowed in the area, and if they are, that they are kept 10 feet away from anything combustible.
  • When it comes to dealing with campfires, always be sure to keep fires smaller than 3 feet wide, and only burn firewood. The fire pit should be completely surrounded by rocks and a shovel and supply of water should be kept close by incase the fire starts to get out of control.
  • Fireworks are a sure fire way to start wildfires, which is why they are typically illegal to set off in most areas of California.
  • Never discard a cigarette by tossing it on the ground or throwing it out of the car window. Doing so is an easy way for the smoldering cigarette butt to land in a dry patch of foliage and start a new blaze. Always discard cigarettes in ashtrays where they cannot blow away.
  • Never park a vehicle on dry brush, since the heat from the exhaust can be enough to start a fire.
  • Be careful with lawnmowers in dry areas since they can start fires with sparks cause by their blades striking against rocks. Try to mow early in the morning when there is still moisture around.
  • Never play around with fire, especially not in hot, dry, or windy conditions.

Fire safety is a very big deal in the state of California. Every year fire season rolls around and thousands of acres are burnt down. Sometimes people lose their homes, and in devastating instances, people lose their lives. It is important that everyone do their part to try and prevent wildfires from happening.

carpool lane rules

Did You Know This about Carpool Lanes?

carpool lane rules

If you have ever driven on a California freeway, you’ve probably seen a carpool lane before. More recently, they have been renamed to HOV lanes, which stands for High Occupancy Vehicle Lane. These are lanes that are only accessible by vehicles that have more than one occupant in the vehicle. The idea is that by offering a clear lane for only certain vehicles, more people will be encouraged to ride share and therefore reduce the amount of traffic on the road.

While carpool lanes may parallel and resemble other lanes on the road, they are viewed as different. They have different sets of rules to ensure that they are used properly and effectively. Breaking these rules can get a person pulled over and issued a traffic violation ticket.

One rule that some people do not realize, is that not all carpool lanes are active 24/7. Some lanes are only considered carpool lanes at set times for certain days of the week. These times usually coincide with peak traffic conditions and are often posted on the signs near the lane itself. This means that anyone can drive through the lane when it isn’t during the posted time, but during those times, only vehicles with more than one occupant can use the lane.

When a driver violates the rules of carpool line, they can face a minimum fine of $490 dollars. Repeat offenders will likely face higher fines. Depending on the location, there can also be additional fees if the local city has elected add additional fees in an effort to reduce carpool lane abuse.

Nobody likes dealing with traffic and California seems to have more than its fair share. This isn’t surprising considering that California is the most populated state in the country. However, this is not an excuse to misuse the carpool lane. If a driver wants to be able to use the carpool lane on their way to and from work, then they should find someone to ride share with. Otherwise they could faces some hefty fines.

celebrating fourth of july safely

How to Celebrate the Fourth of July in California

celebrating fourth of july safely

With the Fourth of July right around the corner, many people are getting ready for quite a show. Everyone knows that America’s Independence Day is celebrated with fireworks. These colorful controlled explosives will be lighting up the night and filling the air with a never ending sound of thunder. A good Fourth of July fireworks show is quite a sight to behold.

There are thousands of options to choose from when it comes to seeing a fireworks display, many Americans prefer to put on their own show. Not only does this let them control the action, it lets them be a part of everything.

While this sounds great, it can also be dangerous. Thousands of homes are set on fire every year by personal fireworks. This has led to some state being more restrictive with fireworks than others. California is definitely one of the stricter states, and for arguably good reasons.

The Laws and Why They Exist

As a state that is famous for getting multiple wildfires a year, it is understandable why there are some regulations against fireworks. As fun as fireworks are, they are still explosives with the potential to be dangerous. It is very easy for someone to injure themselves, another person, or cause a fire with fireworks. In order to reduce all of those risks, the state of California tightly regulates fireworks.

Within the state of California, all fireworks are classified into one of two groups:

  • Safe and sane
  • Dangerous

Safe and sane fireworks can be used by any legal adult, provided it is permitted in the city or area. Many places in California have outlawed the use or sale of state approved fireworks in order to prevent fires caused reckless use of the explosives.

All safe and sane fireworks will come with a seal from the office of the California State Fire Marshall showing that they are permitted for public use. Due to state law, these kinds of fireworks can only be purchased from June 28th to July 6th from a stationary vendor. After that set timeframe, all public fireworks sales within the state come to a halt. This is due to a state law which limits the sale of safe and sane fireworks.

Dangerous fireworks cannot be sold to the general public. These are the kind of fireworks that one would see if they went to a professional fireworks display. Only licensed professionals are allowed to purchase, transport, and set of these kinds of fireworks within the state of California.

Breaking most fireworks safety laws can result in a misdemeanor charge. The penalties can include:

  • Up to one year in jail.
  • A maximum fine of $1,000.
  • Some combination of the two.

How to Handle Fireworks Safely

One should never forget that fireworks can be dangerous if misused or handled improperly. A person needs to be very responsible when using fireworks, which is why only legal adults are allowed to use dangerous fireworks. In order to buy or use any safe and sane fireworks, that’s anything one could buy from a fireworks stand, a person has to be over the age of 16. Giving a minor under the age of 16 fireworks is illegal, and can result in a misdemeanor charge.

When it comes to setting off fireworks, there are a few things that a person should always do to ensure everyone’s safety.

  • Have a bucket of water close by to dispose of used fireworks. By soaking the fireworks after use, they are prevented from going off again if they were not finished.
  • Always have a hose connected to a water source ready to go in case of a fire. Hopefully this won’t be needed, but just in case.
  • Never throw or point fireworks at people. They are explosives and they can hurt someone.
  • Never use fireworks near dry grass or other flammable materials. These can easily alight and start to burn out of control.
  • Never use fireworks under a roof. The roof can be manmade, or a natural one such as under a tree.
  • If a firework is a dud, do not attempt to fix it or set it off again. Doing so is an easy way to have a firework explode in someone’s face.
  • Always be aware of local laws. Fireworks laws frequently vary by community, so a person will need to do some research before setting off any fireworks.

Pets and Fireworks

While we humans love to watch fireworks and listen to them explode, our pets don’t really enjoy them. Pets don’t understand fireworks very well, and as such, some can get very frightened by the loud explosions and the bright colored lights. It is important to remember this, and consider a pet’s needs this Fourth of July.

For dogs, prep work can start earlier in the day. Take dog for a long walk so they will have less energy to devote to being scared that evening. On top of that, create a safe space for pets that is away from windows so that the pet has a nice, comforting place to sleep. Close blinds and curtains while leaving lights and a radio or TV on. This will help keep out flashing lights and help muffle the sounds of the explosions. If the pet has to stay outside, double check that all gates and the fence are secure.

Lastly, try to keep the pet distracted with toys and treats, and don’t make a big deal about the fireworks going off. Doing so could reinforce the scared behavior and make things worse.

Happy Fourth of July!

The Fourth of July is meant to be a fun holiday, and it truly can be. Just be sure to follow the laws and keep everyone happy and safe. This includes pets, of course. After all, nobody wants to end up on the news because they set someone’s house on fire.
Happy Independence Day everyone!

juvenile procedures

What Happens If a Minor Breaks a Law?

juvenile procedures

Getting arrested is not a great experience. Everyone knows that. However, it is not something that adults can’t handle. As an adult, a person knows that it will be rough, but eventually they will get out of jail again. Kids don’t understand that. Several things are so much worse as a kid than they are as an adult, and getting arrested is definitely one of those things.

When a minor gets into trouble with the law, they are often returned to the parents. The parents or other legal guardians are responsible for taking care of the minor and keeping him or her out of trouble. If the minor repeatedly commits the same crimes, then the parent will become responsible for paying for damages.

The minor may also have to go to juvenile court. If it is determined that a minor did commit the crime in question, they will face consequences. In juvenile court, the goal is not to punish minors who committed crimes, but to rehabilitate them. This way, they can go on to be productive members of society when they grow up.

Minors can end up on probation if they are caught committing lesser crimes, while more aggressive crimes can get a minor committed to the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). The DJJ is equivalent of jail for minors and it is not a great place to be, just like regular jail and prison.

If a minor is convicted of certain lesser crimes, they may be able to have those records sealed when they turn 18. This will allow him or her to continue into adulthood without worry. Getting arrested as an adult is terrifying, but as a child it is so much worse. This is why it is important for parents to talk with their children on a regular basis. Make sure your children know the difference between right and wrong.