New Laws for the New Year

Fresno, Calif. The legislature passed nearly 1,200 new laws and regulations in 2008. The governor vetoed more than four hundred of those. Among those that survived are some that will have an impact on our daily lives.

There are several new laws related to transportation. The big one: no texting while driving. For many sending text messages by cell phone has become more common than making calls. Trouble is, texting while driving can be a major distraction. It's now punishable by a state fine of $20 dollars for the first violation, but additional local fees make the total cost over $100 dollars.

But, a new law will make getting around a little easier. It will be legal to mount GPS devices on dashboards, but only in the lower left or lower right corner. Not in the middle were they fit the best, but may obstruct vision.

An effort to crackdown on repeat drunk drivers means anyone on probation for D.U.I. can't have even a trace of alcohol on their breath. A reading of .001 % or greater will send them to jail. The legal limit for everyone else is .008%.

Another new law is designed to encourage folks who ride the bus, to behave. It says anyone who causes trouble on a bus can lose their bus riding privileges for 30 days.

Some new laws aimed at young people go into effect with the New Year. One makes being a cyber-bully, or someone who post intimidating messages about others on internet sites like Myspace, or Facebook eligible for suspension, or expulsion from school.

Another bans sale or possession of the plant Salvia to anyone under 18. There are claims the Mexican plant has hallucinogenic properties.

A new law is aimed at keeping college students out of debt. Banks can no longer offer t-shirts or any other products as an inducement to sign up for a credit card on campus.

And, there's a law that could help us eat fresh, and help local farmers. It allows restaurants to buy their produce directly from farmers markets.

These are just a few of the hundreds of new laws taking effect at the start of the year. One of those vetoed by the governor would have made it illegal to have a dog on your lap while driving. That is still legal.


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