A New Year Brings New Laws
By Pamela J. Scholefield
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Fortunately, 2008 brings with it only a few changes to the
laws that will affect the construction industry as a whole.
Plus, one new law that affects virtually everyone that drives
and uses a cell phone -- we'll discuss this one first.
Motor Vehicle Code §23123 -- Hands-Free for Cell Phones
This new law restricts the use of mobile phones while operating
a motor vehicle and takes effect on July 1, 2008. The law
requires most drivers to use hands-free device while using
a wireless telephone while driving a vehicle. There are exceptions
for emergency use, tow trucks, farm vehicles, large commercial
vehicles and operating vehicles while on private property.
(See dmv.ca.gov/cellularphonelaws/ for DMV's explanation).
There have been recent press releases that say that the use
of the two-way radio, walkie-talkie like feature on a cell
phone (like that provided by Nextel) is still allowed, but
that is not the case.
The exemption allowing the use of two-way radios applies
only to specific vehicles, which does not include a pickup
truck, despite that truck being registered and used exclusively
for commercial purposes. The exemption does apply to a motor
truck (think moving van) or a truck tractor (big-rig or semi
tractor-trailer) that require either a commercial class A
or class B driver's license to operate.
Business & Professions Code§125.6 -- Anti-Discrimination
A licensed contractor will face disciplinary action if they
discriminate by refusing construction-related services based
upon a prospective client's medical condition or sexual orientation.
This expands the existing law providing disciplinary action
against licensees for refusing services based upon race, color,
sex, religion, ancestry, disability, marital status or national
origin of a prospective client.
Business & Professions Code §7026.11 -- Mobile/Manufactured
Homes Because health and safety laws now provide separate
and distinct definitions for the terms "mobile home"
and "manufactured home," the Contractors State License
laws had to be amended to allow for a general manufactured
housing (C-47) classification to continue to be the appropriate
specialty license for performing work relative to both mobile
homes and manufactured housing.
Business & Professions Code §7027.5 -- Expanded
Scope for Landscape Contractors Landscape Contractors (C-27
license) are authorized to enter into prime contracts for
residential landscape projects that include the construction
and installation of fireplaces (that are not attached to the
dwelling) or outdoor cooking centers, as long as any work
beyond the scope of the landscape contractor's licensing is
subcontracted out to appropriate specialty contractors or
a licensed general contractor.
Business & Professions Code §7083.1 -- Expired or
Cancelled Licenses A contractor whose license is expired,
suspended and renewable, or canceled, must keep current his
or her address of record with the Contractors State Licensing
Board for a five-year period immediately following the expiration,
suspension or cancellation of their license. Business &
Professions Code §7091 -- Statute of Limitations for
Disciplinary Actions If a licensee is convicted of a crime
that is substantially related to the qualifications, functions
or duties of a contractor, the CSLB will have two years from
the date the conviction is discovered in which to file disciplinary
action against the licensee. Also, the CSLB will have 18 months
after the date a warranty expires in which to file a disciplinary
action against a licensee who fails to honor the warranty
Business & Professions Code §7114 -- Payment of
Money for Aiding Unlicensed Contractor As part of disciplinary
action against a licensee, the Registrar of Contractors is
authorized to order a licensee to pay a specific amount of
money to an injured party if the licensee has aided an unlicensed
person or allowed an unlicensed person to use his or her license.
Business & Professions Code §7159.5 -- Home Improvement
Contracts Parts of this statute have been revised to as follows:
Contractors who provide and register payment and performance
bonds need not include some of the language normally required
for home improvement contracts. Also, this revised statute
sets specific time frames for the running of statutes of limitations
to bring criminal charges against contractors who violate
certain provisions of the home improvement contracts statutes.
Business & Professions Code §7159.14 -- Service
and Repair Contracts This amended statute clarifies statutes
of limitation for bringing criminal charges against contractors
who violate the requirements for service and repair home improvement
Civil Code §2782 -- Subcontractor Indemnity A new subsection
added to this statute voids residential building contract
provisions that attempt to make the subcontractor responsible
(by way of indemnification) for construction defects claims
that arise out of the negligence or design defects of the
general contractor. But, this new subsection applies only
to general contractors who are "unaffiliated" with
the builder. This means that in order for this safeguard for
the subcontractor to apply, the general contractor must be
an independent from the builder, meaning it can't be a partner,
member of, or subsidiary of the builder.
Insurance Code §11760.1 -- Audit Penalties This new
statute provides that if, after three requests, an employer
fails to allow an insurance company or its representative
access to its records in order to perform a workers' compensation
audit, the employer may be liable to pay the insurance company
three times the total annual premium, plus associated costs.
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