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AB-798 Vehicles: fire department: federally recognized tribes.(2021-2022)

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Date Published: 09/27/2021 02:00 PM
AB798:v94#DOCUMENT

Assembly Bill No. 798
CHAPTER 282

An act to amend Sections 165, 2501, 2510, and 12527 of the Vehicle Code, relating to vehicles.

[ Approved by Governor  September 24, 2021. Filed with Secretary of State  September 24, 2021. ]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 798, Ramos. Vehicles: fire department: federally recognized tribes.
(1) Existing law authorizes the commissioner to issue licenses for the operation of privately owned or operated ambulances used to respond to emergency calls, armored cars, fleet owner inspection and maintenance stations, and for the transportation of hazardous material. Existing law requires the department to inspect ambulances licensed by the department at least once per year.
This bill would exempt ambulances owned or operated by a fire department of a federally recognized tribe or operators of those ambulances from the requirement to have a license and would prohibit the department from inspecting those ambulances.
(2) Existing law requires an applicant for an ambulance driver certificate to satisfy prescribed requirements, including submitting an acceptable fingerprint card, and exempts specified persons operating ambulances in the line of duty, including salaried, regular, full-time police officers and members of a fire department of a public agency, from those requirements.
This bill would extend that exemption to members of a fire department of a federally recognized tribe.
(3) Under existing law, an authorized emergency vehicle is required to be equipped with at least one steady burning red warning lamp visible from at least 1,000 feet in front of the vehicle. Existing law defines an authorized emergency vehicle as, among other things, a vehicle owned or operated by any department or agency of the United States government when the vehicle used is responding to emergency, fire, ambulance, or lifesaving calls or is actively engaged in law enforcement work.
This bill would also include in the definition of an emergency vehicle any vehicle owned or operated by a federally recognized Indian tribe used in responding to emergency, fire, ambulance, or lifesaving calls. The bill would state that a vehicle owned or operated by a federally recognized Indian tribe used in responding to emergency, fire, ambulance, or lifesaving calls is considered an authorized emergency vehicle, as specified.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 165 of the Vehicle Code is amended to read:

165.
 An authorized emergency vehicle is:
(a) Any publicly owned and operated ambulance, lifeguard, or lifesaving equipment or any privately owned or operated ambulance licensed by the Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol to operate in response to emergency calls.
(b) Any publicly owned vehicle operated by the following persons, agencies, or organizations:
(1) Any federal, state, or local agency, department, or district employing peace officers as that term is defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Part 2 of Title 3 of the Penal Code, for use by those officers in the performance of their duties.
(2) Any forestry or fire department of any public agency or fire department organized as provided in the Health and Safety Code.
(c) Any vehicle owned by the state, or any bridge and highway district, and equipped and used either for fighting fires, or towing or servicing other vehicles, caring for injured persons, or repairing damaged lighting or electrical equipment.
(d) Any state-owned vehicle used in responding to emergency fire, rescue, or communications calls and operated either by the Office of Emergency Services or by any public agency or industrial fire department to which the Office of Emergency Services has assigned the vehicle.
(e) (1) Any vehicle owned or operated by a federally recognized Indian tribe used in responding to emergency, fire, ambulance, or lifesaving calls. For the purposes of this section and the provisions of Sections 2501 and 2510, a vehicle used in responding to emergency, fire, ambulance, or lifesaving calls owned or operated by a federally recognized Indian tribe is considered an authorized emergency vehicle.
(2) Any vehicle owned or operated by any department or agency of the United States government when the vehicle is used in responding to emergency fire, ambulance, or lifesaving calls or is actively engaged in law enforcement work.
(f) Any vehicle for which an authorized emergency vehicle permit has been issued by the Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol.

SEC. 2.

 Section 2501 of the Vehicle Code is amended to read:

2501.
 (a) The Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol may issue licenses for the operation of privately owned or operated ambulances used to respond to emergency calls, armored cars, fleet owner inspection and maintenance stations, and for the transportation of hazardous material, including the transportation of explosives. Licenses issued under this section shall be issued in accordance with this chapter and regulations adopted by the commissioner pursuant thereto. Licenses issued by the commissioner shall expire one year from the date of issue, and may be renewed upon application and payment of the renewal fees if the application for renewal is made within the 30-day period before the date of expiration. A person whose license has expired shall immediately cease the activity requiring a license, but the commissioner shall accept applications for renewal during the 30-day period following the date of expiration if they are accompanied by the new license fee. A license shall not be renewed when the application is received more than 30 days after the date of expiration.
(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a) and this chapter, licenses shall not be required under this chapter for ambulances owned or operated by a fire department of a federally recognized tribe or operators of those ambulances.

SEC. 3.

 Section 2510 of the Vehicle Code is amended to read:

2510.
 (a) (1) A person applying for a license to operate ambulances or armored cars shall provide separate identification data and reports of inspection for each vehicle as prescribed by the commissioner.
(2) A person who operates ambulances owned or operated by a fire department of a federally recognized Indian tribe shall be exempt from the requirements set forth under paragraph (1) and this chapter.
(b) (1) A person shall not operate a privately owned emergency ambulance or armored car until the California Highway Patrol has determined that the vehicle is in compliance with this code and regulations adopted by the commissioner. Ambulances licensed by the department shall be inspected by the department not less often than once annually.
(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), the department shall not inspect ambulances owned or operated by a fire department of a federally recognized Indian tribe.

SEC. 4.

 Section 12527 of the Vehicle Code is amended to read:

12527.
 In addition to satisfying all requirements specified in this code and in regulations adopted pursuant to this code, an applicant for an ambulance driver certificate shall satisfy all of the following requirements:
(a) Except as otherwise provided, every ambulance driver responding to an emergency call or transporting patients shall be at least 18 years of age, hold a driver’s license valid in California, possess a valid ambulance driver certificate, and be trained and competent in ambulance operation and the use of safety and emergency care equipment required by the California Code of Regulations governing ambulances.
(b) Except as provided in subdivision (e), a person shall not operate an ambulance unless the person has in their immediate possession a driver’s license for the appropriate class of vehicle to be driven and a certificate issued by the department to permit the operation of an ambulance.
(c) An ambulance driver certificate shall only be issued by the department upon the successful completion of an examination conducted by the department and subject to all of the following conditions:
(1) An applicant for an original or renewal driver certificate shall submit a report of medical examination on a form approved by the department, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or the Federal Aviation Administration. The report shall be dated within the two years preceding the application date.
(2) An applicant for an original driver certificate shall submit an acceptable fingerprint card.
(3) The certificate to drive an ambulance shall be valid for a period not exceeding five years and six months and shall expire on the same date as the driver’s license. The ambulance driver certificate shall only be valid when both of the following conditions exist:
(A) The certificate is accompanied by a medical examination certificate that was issued within the preceding two years and approved by the department, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or the Federal Aviation Administration.
(B) A copy of the medical examination report based upon which the certificate was issued is on file with the department.
(4) The ambulance driver certificate is renewable under conditions prescribed by the department. Except as provided in paragraphs (2) and (3) of subdivision (d), an applicant renewing an ambulance driver certificate shall possess certificates or licenses evidencing compliance with the emergency medical training and educational standards for ambulance attendants established by the Emergency Medical Services Authority.
(d) (1) Every ambulance driver shall have been trained to assist the ambulance attendant in the care and handling of the ill and injured.
Except as provided in paragraph (2), the driver of a California-based ambulance shall, within one year of initial issuance of the driver’s ambulance driver certificate, possess a certificate or license evidencing compliance with the emergency medical training and educational standards established for ambulance attendants by the Emergency Medical Services Authority. In those emergencies requiring both the regularly assigned driver and attendant to be utilized in providing patient care, the specialized emergency medical training requirement shall not apply to persons temporarily detailed to drive the ambulance.
(2) Paragraph (1) does not apply to an ambulance driver who is a volunteer driver for a volunteer ambulance service if the service is provided in the unincorporated areas of a county with a population of less than 125,000 persons, as determined by the most recent federal decennial census. The operation of an ambulance subject to this paragraph shall only apply if the name of the driver and the volunteer ambulance service and facts substantiating the public health necessity for an exemption are submitted to the department by the county board of supervisors and at least one of the following entities in the county where the driver operates the ambulance:
(A) The county health officer.
(B) The county medical care committee.
(C) The local emergency medical services agency coordinator.
(3) The information required by paragraph (2) shall be submitted to the department at the time of application for an ambulance driver certificate. Upon receipt of that information, the department shall restrict the certificate holder to driving an ambulance for the volunteer ambulance service.
(4) The director may terminate any certificate issued pursuant to paragraph (2) at any time the department determines that the qualifying conditions specified no longer exist.
(5) The exemption granted pursuant to paragraph (2) shall expire on the expiration date of the ambulance driver certificate.
(e) An ambulance certificate is not required for persons operating ambulances in the line of duty as salaried, regular, full-time police officers, deputy sheriffs, members of a fire department of a public agency, or members of a fire department of a federally recognized tribe. This exemption excludes volunteers and part-time employees or members of a department whose duties are primarily clerical or administrative.