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There will be many new laws going into effect on Jan. 1. They range from decriminalizing the possession of marijuana to charging parents with misdemeanors when their children do not show up to school. Here is a partial list of some of the new laws.
• Decriminalization of Marijuana (SB 1449)
Possession of less than 28.5 grams, or one ounce of marijuana, will now be an infraction as opposed to a misdemeanor. Violators will be subject to a fine of no more than $100, but will not be arrested, are not required to appear in court and will not have the incident appear on their record as a criminal offense. The law was introduced by Mark Leno, D-San Francisco.
• Reckless Driving for Photo Misdemeanor (AB 2479)
The new law introduced by Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, will make reckless driving while in pursuit of a celebrity photo a misdemeanor. The law was prompted by incidents involving paparazzi and violators face a $2,500 fine and up to six months in jail.
• Electronic Impersonation (SB 1411)
Creating a false social networking page, hacking e-mail accounts and other forms of electronic impersonation will become a misdemeanor. Violators are subject to a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail. They are also subject to a civil lawsuit but the victim must prove the impersonation was done with intent to do harm, intimidate or to commit fraud. The law was introduced by Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto.
• Parents Charged With Misdemeanor for Truant Children (SB 1317)
The new law is another introduced by Mark Leno, D-San Francissco. It would hold parents of children in first through eighth grade responsible for excessive unexcused absences. Parents would be charged with a misdemeanor and are subject to a $2,000 fine and up to one year in jail.
•Foster Care Coverage Until Age 21 (AB 12)
The new law introduced by Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles will extend foster care benefits until age 21. The current law removes children from foster care at age 18. The state will pay for the care using federal funds, but foster youths over 18 must be in school, working 80 hours a month, or declared incapable due to a medical condition to qualify for the coverage.
• Motorcycle Instruction Permits (AB 1952)
Motorcycle drivers under 21 years of age must now complete a motorcycle safety course before they are issued a driver’s permit. The individual must then wait six months after receiving the permit to apply for a Class M motorcycle driver’s license. The DMV estimates there are currently 6,000 licensed motorcycle drivers under the age of 19.
• Medical Parole (SB 1399)
The Secretary of Corrections and Rehabilitation has the authority to release medically or mentally incapacitated inmates. The prisoners would be sent home on supervised parole, meaning a corrections officer will monitor the inmate for the remainder of the sentence while the inmate receives the appropriate care.
• Amber Alert for Police Shootings (SB 839)
The Emergency Alert System, typically used to notify motorists of child abductions, will be expanded to alert motorists about police shootings. The California Highway Patrol will use the Amber Alert system to issue a “blue alert” to notify motorists if an officer has been killed or wounded and to display any available information about the suspect.
• Expedited Civil Trials (AB 2284)
This law would allow both parties involved in a civil trial to sign a consent form to expedite the proceedings. It would allow for the use of eight jurors instead of the usual 12, and limit each side to three hours to present their case.
Video recorders on dashboard (AB 1942): The new law introduced by Nathan Fletcher, R-San Diego, allows motorists to place a video recording device on the dashboard of their vehicles to record accidents or other traffic incidents. Drivers were previously not allowed to have anything placed on the dashboard that would obstruct the view of the road. The video recorders can be placed in a seven-inch square of the windshield on the passenger side, a five-inch square on the driver side or a five-inch square in the center. The video recorders must not block airbag deployment zones.
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