Q Can you inform teens and parents what consequences they can expect if someone under the age of 18 is caught driving peers around? Also, if a teen driving around with teens happened to be in an accident, would the parents be held responsible if the car belongs to them?
This issue is so important. Please write about it.
A It is, and this is a case in which the law is working. Since 2007 when tougher new rules were put in place, teen motor vehicle fatalities in California have dropped 48 percent.
Teens younger than 18 cannot drive other teens for the first year they have their license unless a licensed adult 25 or older is in the car. The penalty is 16 hours of community service and a $35 fine for the first offense. The second offense is 24 hours of community service and a $50 fine. Their license is suspended for six months if they have three points within a year.
Parents could be held responsible if a suit is filed. But I have never heard of that happening.
Q I was on Highway 101 near San Carlos when I did a double-take as a motorcyclist passed me with a maybe-45-pound dog sharing his seat. The dog was placed between the driver's legs and the front of the bike. Is this legal? The dog seemed content, and very still, but this seemed a bit risky to me.
A To me, too. There's no explicit prohibition regarding the transportation of animals on motorcycles because it is so unusual. But, says Art-the-CHP-Man: "An officer could determine that this activity violates the basic speed law, that there is no speed in which it is safe to transport an unrestrained animal on a motorcycle as it will cause an undue distraction to the driver, and could lead to the animal being dumped on the roadway, which is a misdemeanor."
Bottom line: This is very unwise.
Q I was in Mountain View at the Starbucks on Charleston Road and parked on the street next to a fire hydrant. The curb is not painted red or any other color. And to make it harder to spot, the fire hydrant is painted silver. I remember the law being to not to park next to a fire hydrant and the curbs were always painted red, too.
Now, how is one supposed to always be on the lookout for fire hydrants if the curb is not painted? Is it permissible to park next to the fire hydrant since the curb was not painted?
A No. Section 22514 of the vehicle code prohibits parking within 15 feet of a fire hydrant, red curb or not, red hydrant or silver.
Q Like most folks I enjoy surprises, but I didn't expect to see a burly gentleman on a large Harley-Davidson motorcycle bearing a California license plate with the "DP" symbol embedded. How common is this, and what disabilities would qualify? I've asked several friends and none of us could imagine the logic, but I'm sure your audience can school us.
A I can, too, and here is one. Disabilities could involve breathing issues that limit a person to the distance one could walk.