July 17, 2023

California bill aims to require drivers licenses for unlicenced users of class three e bikes

This new bill that appears to have been first proposed in July 2023 looks to prevent children under age 12 from using any class of e bike. For those over 12 they can operate class 1 and 2 e bikes but for class 3 e bikes you must be 16 or older (part of existing law) and posses "the new" class three users license and also wear an approved helmet (part of existing law). Not a completely bad idea but license training and issuance for kids (and adults with no vehicle drivers license) seems like a big challenge in this state where we can hardly manage vehicle drivers licenses (digital vehicle licenses were promised Jan 2023 and still have not happened). Specifically the bill states it is the "intent of the Legislature to create an e-bike license program with an online written test and a state-issued photo identification for those persons without a valid driver’s license". So again this is a bit broader than it appears at first blush. It appears the intent of the law is if you don't have a "vehicle" drivers license then you would need to get a "class 3 e bike license" regardless of your age. As I like to say about California we are really good at churning out thousands of new laws every year but we are not so good at implementing and enforcing them. Welcome to California.

Another thing to note about the bill is that appears to have been created using a "gut and amend" procedure. This controversial legislative maneuver is when a lawmaker takes an existing bill that has already been approved by several committees or even one house of the Legislature, strips the contents and adds in new unrelated bill language. You can see traces of the old bill in the current bill (one involving natural resources) This procedure has been around for years and is typically done when new legislation is desired but the window to submit a new bill has passed. Its also used for more troubling tactics as noted here. These bills can end up being sneaky and hard to track.

It will be interesting to see if this gets any traction. Most bills don't make it thru the full legislative session. All bills must be approved by Sept 14 2023 or they die. Then you have the veto process and Governor Newsom does Veto quite a few bills that don't fit with his agenda. That is in Oct.

Stay tuned to this page for updates on this proposed legislation.

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