Brand New Changes to the California Legal System in 2023 that Everyone Should be Aware Of


Consider the fact that the Californian State Legislature has passed close to a thousand new bills in 2022. Many of them were only minor changes to existing laws, while others were brand new laws that are now a part of the state’s legal system. As we are getting closer to the latter half of 2023, many of the new laws and changes are coming into full effect. Let’s look at a few important examples of that next.

California Controlled Substance Laws: Proposition 47

California drug laws are complex in more ways than one, but the 2023 update offers some relief to minor offenders. According to the new changes:

  • First and second time possession charge for illegal drugs without the intent to sell will be recorded as a misdemeanor and not a felony.
  • Punishment for first time misdemeanor in drug possession charges is limited to a maximum of $1,000 in fine and/or 12 months of jailtime.
  • Punishment for a second time misdemeanor in drug possession charges is limited to a maximum of $2,000 in fine and/or 12 months of jailtime.
  • Repetitive drug possession charges after the second misdemeanor may or may not see stricter punishments, depending on the circumstances.
  • Even the first illegal drug possession charge can be recorded as a felony if they have prior charges of serious misdemeanors and/or felony in their record.
  • They can also be charged for a felony if the perpetrator has a loaded gun with them at the time of their arrest.

Assembly Bill 2147: Jaywalking is (Mostly) Legal

Californians will now be able to legally cross streets even when there isn’t an intersection. In other words, jaywalking is now legal in the state, albeit with a few stipulations. Jaywalkers can still be ticketed if they crossed any street while ignoring a credible chance of collision. Officers can stop and have a chat with the jaywalker if they believe there was a credible threat of collision. However, such instances can be resolved without a ticket.

Assembly Bill 1909: Protecting Cyclists

According to the National Traffic Crash Data Report of 2021, pedal cyclist injuries and fatalities continued to increase in 2021 as well. Given that more cyclist deaths were reported in 2020 than in the 33+ years before, another new record in pedal cyclist mortality is disheartening.

However, what really makes the new laws under Assembly Bill 1909 so pertinent to California is quite an alarming fact. Apparently, California has the second-highest mortality rate for cyclists in all of US, coming second only to Florida. Cyclist deaths in Florida and California made up one third of all cyclist fatalities reported in the year 2021 across all US states and territories.

Now that the bill is coming into full effect, motorists will only be able to overtake cyclists after shifting to a different lane, if available. It’s a marked improvement over the 3-foot minimum distance law that this one will replace. Another highlight of the Assembly Bill in relation to pedal cyclists is that cyclists will no longer need a license to ride their bicycles anywhere in California.