Lots of new laws now in effect

By: Jeannine LeJeune
CROWLEY - Citizens of the state have been warned, police are focusing their efforts on enforcing statewide laws that went into effect Sunday.

The 2010 Louisiana Legislative Session saw lawmakers address and pass several laws that affect public safety for Louisianans.

Along with state police, local police forces will be enforcing these laws. Crowley Police Chief K.P. Gibson says that if they observe people breaking these new laws they will not hesitate to cite the lawbreakers.

“None of these are bad laws, they are going to help with the safety of children and community,” he said. “Any time there are new laws we update our force so that they are prepared.”

The Crowley Police, along with the other police forces in the state will be updating their force on several new laws. Among the new laws effective as of Aug. 15 are:

- Act 203 makes text messaging or using a wireless communication device while driving a motor vehicle a primary offense for all Louisiana drivers. According to the new law, wireless communication devices include cell phones, PDAs, laptops, pagers and similar communication devices. The law prohibits anyone 17 years of age or younger from operating a motor vehicle while using any wireless telecommunication device. The law does allow drivers over the age of 17 to use their cell phones while driving. This law gives law enforcement the right to initiate a traffic stop for these offenses alone.

- Act 506 expands drug free zones 1,000 feet to 2,000 feet from designated properties.

- Act 516 substantially redefines pornography involving juveniles. The law makes “sexting” pornographic images of juveniles a crime.

- Act 618 requires driver’s education courses to include information on sharing the road with pedestrians, bicyclists and transit vehicles.

- Acts 810 and 565 makes synthetic marijuana or other synthetic cannabinoids an illegal substance. They are now listed as schedule I narcotics under LA R.S. 40:966. It also creates the crime of unlawful production, manufacturing, distributing or possession of prohibited plants and adds hallucinogenic substances to schedule I controlled dangerous substances.

- Act 813 allows bicyclists who are riding on a roadway with an improved shoulder to have the option to ride on the shoulder instead of in the lane of travel. Also, every bicycle must be quipped with a rear lamp that emits a red flashing light or a red light sufficient to be seen from within 100 feet to 600 feet to the rear and a front headlamp when using a state highway, parish road or city street during the nighttime.

- Act 925 prohibits carrying a concealed weapon on any school, school property or school bus and authorizes concealed handgun permit holders to carry a concealed handgun within 1,000 feet of school property.

- Act 989 created the Cyber Bullying crime and defined it. It is defined as the transmission of any electronic textual, visual, written or oral communication with the malicious and willful intent to coerce, abuse, torment or intimidate a person under the age of 18.

“A lot of our laws are outdated and these new laws are doing a lot to catch up with the times,” said Gibson. “Texting while driving law is one of those things that have caused a lot of severe accidents, and not just here, but everywhere. So, if we observe drivers doing it, we will pull them over.”

One other notable law was passed during the 2010 Louisiana Legislative Session, however, it will not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2011. Act 1039 calls for an increase in the amount of time a minor with a learner’s permit will spend in supervised “behind-the-wheel” training to 50 hours, with at least 15 of those hours to include nighttime driving. Furthermore, drivers with an intermediate license are restricted from driving from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., unless they are accompanied by a licensed parent or guardian or adult at least 21 years of age or a licensed sibling of at least 18 ears of age. These drivers also ma not transport more than one passenger under the age of 21 if they are not an immediate family member.

For a full list of laws enacted during the 2010 Louisiana Legislative Session, go to http://www.legis.state.la.us.

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