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Frequently Asked Questions of the Highway Patrol

Is it illegal to use my cellular telephone while I'm driving?
California law does not prohibit the use of a hands-free wireless telephone while operating a vehicle if you re 18 years of age or over. However, the CHP recommends common sense in its use and we urge users to familiarize themselves with their cellular telephone features and follow these tips:

Two new laws concerning cell phone use went into effect July 1, 2008. Click here to see a list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the new laws. (Para español, haga clic aquí.)

Can I put after-market tinting on the windows of my vehicle?
The main requirements for legal window tinting in California are:

  1. The windshield and front driver's side and passenger's side windows cannot receive any aftermarket tinting.
  2. If the rear window of a vehicle is tinted, the vehicle must have outside rearview mirrors on both sides.

The law prohibits any person from driving any motor vehicle with any object or material placed, displayed, installed, affixed, or applied upon the windshield or side or rear windows, with certain limited exceptions.

However, legislation signed into law effective January 1, 1999, exempts from the above prohibition specified clear, colorless, and transparent material that is installed, affixed, or applied to the front driver and passenger side windows for the specific purpose of reducing ultraviolet rays. If, as, or when this material becomes torn, bubbled or otherwise worn, it must be removed or replaced.

I have a question regarding a ticket that I have received or lost.
Once a citation is issued, the case then falls under the jurisdiction of the court and any questions, extensions, or concerns regarding your case would need to be directed to them. The court should send you a courtesy notice with the fine and/or appearance date. If not, it is your responsibility to contact the court and take care of the citation. The date and time of your appearance as well as the court address and phone number should be written at the bottom of the citation. You may also access the courts online at: http://www.ca.gov/Driving/LawsSafety/TrafficFines.html

Another website for court information is:
http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/selfhelp/traffic/
You can choose your county if it is not posted already.

If you have not already read the instructions on the reverse side of your citation, you should do so immediately.

I'm pregnant. The HOV lane requires two persons in a vehicle. Now that I'm eating for two, can I use this lane?
California law requires that in order to utilize the HOV lane, there must be two (or, if posted, three) separate individuals occupying seats in a vehicle. Until your "passenger" is capable of riding in his or her own seat, you cannot count them.


I will be traveling to California and want to carry my weapon. I currently have a concealed weapon permit. How can I legally transport my weapon while driving through the state?
California law does not recognize concealed weapon permits from other states; therefore, they would not be held valid. If you wish to transport a handgun during your California visit, it should be carried unloaded in a locked container. In the absence of a suitable container, you may secure the unloaded handgun in the locked trunk of a passenger car. Ammunition may be kept in the same container or trunk, but the handgun must remain unloaded with no rounds in the cylinder and no loaded magazines in the magazine well.

If you have additional questions, contact the California Department of Justice at 916-227-3703.


How can I find out if it's OK to bring a particular kind of plant or animal into California?
This information is available at the California Department of Food and Agriculture website. Their URL is: http://www.cdfa.ca.gov.


I have heard that some gangs are initiating new members by driving with their headlights off and when people flash their lights at them, they must shoot the drivers of the cars who do this. Is this true?
The California Highway Patrol has received many inquiries from people who have seen this message on the Internet. The simple answer is, it is not true. Of course, as a law enforcement agency we would caution people not to do anything in their vehicles which could anger or upset other drivers. But to our knowledge, nothing of this sort has taken place.

The San Fernando Valley Folklore Society and other organizations track urban myths, and attempt to explain their origins.


Will California be adopting the new federal drivers' hours of service rules which are now applicable to interstate drivers and if so, how will the new rules affect intrastate drivers (those not subject to the new federal regulations)?
California Vehicle Code Section 34501.2 requires the California Highway Patrol to adopt drivers' hours of service regulations for both interstate and intrastate drivers, which are consistent with the hours of service regulations adopted by the United States Department of Transportation in Part 395 of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations. Currently, there is a moratorium on implementation of new regulations. In the interim, intrastate drivers may continue to operate under current hours of service regulations contained in Title 13, California Code of Regulations.


Upon adopting the new federal rules, intrastate drivers will still be allowed to operate within the federal "tolerance guidelines" in 49 CFR 350.341, which continues to provide extended on-duty and driving hours for intrastate drivers.


Is the CHP's Management Information System of Terminal Evaluation Records (MISTER) program available to the general public via the Internet?
The CHP has explored the possibility of making this information available on our Internet website. Unfortunately, sanitizing personal driver information and converting the database to an Internet compatible format is extremely cost prohibitive, especially during these tough budget times. Nevertheless, when the budget situation improves we will once again look into placing MISTER data on the Internet. In the interim, certain information contained in MISTER remains available by request at any CHP office throughout the state.


I have a technical question about commercial vehicles and/or school buses. Where can I get an answer?
For information of this nature, please contact our Commercial Vehicle Section directly. The mailing address and telephone number is:

California Highway Patrol
Commercial Vehicle Section/062
P.O. Box 942898
Sacramento, CA  94298-0001
(916) 843-3400


What is the 11-99 Foundation, and where can I find out more about it?
The 11-99 Foundation is a recognized non-profit organization which provides financial assistance to the families of CHP officers who are killed in the line of duty. Their website is at http://www.chp1199.org. If you would like more detailed information, you may write or call:

11-99 Foundation
2244 North State College Boulevard
Fullerton, California 92831
Phone: 714-529-1199
Fax: 714-529-1191
Email: info@chp11-99.org


I need a police clearance letter. Where can I get one?
These letters are available from the California Department of Justice (DOJ). You may call the DOJ directly at (916) 227-3832 or (916) 445-9555, or you may write to:

California Department of Justice
P. O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550


What is the telephone number to call for current road conditions? Is there a web site which contains this information?
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) operates two road condition hotlines. From within California, call 800-427-ROAD (7623), and when you are outside the state you can receive the same information at (800) 427-7623.

Caltrans also has a web page which contains several different sources for road information. The URL is: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/.


I have a 4-wheel drive vehicle. Do I have to carry / use chains? What do the "R" ratings which are associated with chain requirements mean?
"R" ratings on snowy roads indicate chain requirements for various conditions. Some vehicles may not be required to use chains under all conditions, but all vehicles must carry chains. Most vehicles come equipped with snow tires. Look for M+S (mud and snow), All Season, or All Terrain, on the side of the tire.

R-1   chains required except for vehicles with snow tires (chains required for any vehicle pulling a trailer)

R-2   chains required except for 4-wheel drive with snow tires

R-3   chains required for all vehicles



How do I file a complaint against CHP or one of its employees?
Complaints against CHP employees may be registered at Office of Internal Affairs. Instructions for filing against either a uniformed or non-uniformed member of the Department is described on that page.


How do I get a copy of an accident report (in which I was involved)?
Directions for completing CHP Form 190 can be found on these pages:


My hybrid has yellow DMV "Clean Air" decals. Are my decals going to expire soon?
Yes, the law allowing single-occupant hybrids with yellow "Clean Air" decals to use carpool lanes will not be valid after July 1, 2011. For more information, visit the California Air Resources Board website.


Can I drive by myself in the carpool lane?
No, the law generally restricts solo drivers from using carpool lanes. However, there are exceptions to the rule. In very specific circumstances, a single-occupant vehicle may be allowed to use a carpool lane and these guidelines should help you determine when it is OK. Be aware some carpool lanes have signs posted which specify local rules. Those roadway signs should always be your first guide to determining what is allowed in that carpool lane. A carpool lane is also known as a high-occupancy vehicle lane (or an HOV lane).