FOR WHOM THE TOLLS DON’T APPLY: ELIGIBLE VETS WON’T PAY FOR BRIDGE CROSSINGS AMONG NEW LAWS IN 2023

Instagram art created for the new toll exemption for eligible veterans law.
The Golden Gate Bridge crossing is now free for eligible veterans.

When the clock struck midnight and rang in 2023, it brought several new laws that will honor and benefit many of California’s 1.6 million military veterans. All were signed by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2022.

Perhaps the most notable of them? We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it – literally, figuratively, and seriously.

This law (AB 2949) exempts vehicles with license plates issued to a disabled veteran, Pearl Harbor survivor, prisoner of war, or to veterans who have received distinctions such as the Purple Heart or the Congressional Medal of Honor, from paying tolls on roads, bridges, highways, vehicular crossings, and other toll facilities. Eligible veterans do not currently need to have a FasTrak account, although a FasTrak-enrollment requirement will be instituted in the future. The benefit does not apply to express lanes including high-occupancy vehicle lanes.

Photo of a CA veterans drivers license.
There will no longer be a $5 fee to get the word “VETERAN” printed on a drivers license.

Another cost-saving law (SB 837), repeals the $5 fee veterans previously paid for obtaining the word “VETERAN” printed on the face of their California driver’s license or identification card.  This designation many grant individuals access to certain privileges, benefits or compensation associated with being a veteran without having to carry and produce a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (such as DD 214, DD 256 or NGB-22).

Present your discharge documentation to your local County Veterans Service Office, which will issue you form VSD-001 – Veteran Status Verification. This is what you present to the DMV office at the time you are renewing or replacing your DL. Visit website – www.cacvso.org – to locate your nearest County Veterans Service Office.

Visit the DMV’s Veterans and Active Military Page for information regarding its numerous benefits for veterans.

And while this law (SB 611) wasn’t enacted specifically to benefit veterans, it will certainly help a disabled veteran looking for a parking place. The law requires Californians who have had their permanent Disabled Person Parking Placard for at least six years to confirm whether or not they still need it. The DMV will not renew placards for those who fail to respond to the notices the agency will be sending out. This is an effort to curb fraud and the abuse of misusing Disabled Person Parking Placards; leaving the designated spaces available to those who truly are disabled, including a significant number of veterans.

There are other new laws that benefit veterans as well. To see a complete list of veteran focused bills that became laws in 2023, along with the legislators who authored them, visit bit.ly/3vJY5Vv and scroll down to view the list.

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