New Statutes Kick In July 1

 

Effective today, new state laws will let people drink more but will impose harsher penalties for drunken driving.

Minnesota bars can serve alcohol until 2 a.m. A new Virginia law lets residents mail-order wine from out-of state-wineries. But if you drive drunk in Kansas, the car you're in could be impounded up to a year, whether it belongs to you, a friend or a relative.

Impoundment of drunken drivers' cars is one of the hundreds of new laws that take effect with the start of the new budget year, July 1. Effective dates for state legislation vary. In some states, new laws take effect New Year's Day. Some laws take effect soon after a governor signs a bill passed by the legislature. Other state laws take effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns.

Kansas' DUI impoundment law is aimed at drunken drivers and those who make it possible for them to drive drunk. It allows judges to impound a drunken driver's car for up to a year, even on a first offense.

The judge can also impound the car if it doesn't belong to the driver. Under the law, if you let somebody drive your car knowing he or she has been convicted of drunken driving, your car can be impounded and you can be fined $1000.

The law was introduced by state Sen. James Barnett (R), after he met with a family whose 23-year-old son was killed in a wreck caused by a driver with eight DUI convictions.

"We're just trying to take the weapon away from the drunk drivers," Barnett said.

Other states have also acted to curb drinking and driving.

Wyoming has made it a felony punishable by up to two years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine for getting a fourth driving under the influence (DUI) conviction.

Tennessee and Ohio reduce their legal blood-alcohol limit from 0.10 to 0.08 as of July 1. The federal government has convinced 38 other states to do the same by threatening to withhold millions of dollars in federal highway construction funds.

New state laws will also making it harder to smoke.

Starting today, smoking is banned in restaurants in Florida and Hawaii. New York and Connecticut passed similar bans this year, following the lead of California, which has one of the strictest anti-smoking bans for government buildings, restaurants and bars.

Smokers will be paying a lot more per pack in some states. In Wyoming, cigarette taxes rise from 12 cents to 60 cents per pack. Georgia's tobacco tax increases by 25 cents to 37 cents a pack.

New laws in California and Wyoming take aim at civil rights.

As of today, registered domestic partners in California will have the right to inherit, just like a surviving spouse. And ex-cons in Wyoming will be able to petition the court to get their voting rights restored if five years have passed since they served their sentence.

In Montana, lawmakers passed a law guaranteeing a free college education for former state inmates exonerated by DNA testing. The legislature, however, provided no money for the law, the Billings Gazette reported.

Other state laws that take effect July 1 include:

  • Minnesota implements a 24-hour waiting period on abortions.Mississippi law lets an annual payment to the tobacco trust fund be spent on health-care programs. Another law requires convicted felons to provide a DNA sample to the state Department of Corrections. Consumers can add their names to a do-not-call list to avoid telemarketers' pitches.
  • New Mexico law restores public employees' rights to negotiate agreements with the state. Gov. Bill Richardson (D), said in a written statement: "All (state) employees deserve a fair shake when it comes to negotiating salaries, workplace safety and other aspects of the jobs they perform." 
  • Ohio requires that gambling not make up more than 49 percent of a business's revenue and requires licensing of game operators and distributors of instant gambling supplies. 
  • Washington driver's license examination fees increase from $7 to $10.
  • Californians get more consumer privacy protection through a law requiring businesses to inform state residents whenever their unencrypted personal information such as name, social security number and credit card number is acquired by an unauthorized person through a breach in computer security.
  • Four states put new teeth in the federal Selective Service System registration requirement. In Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky and New Mexico, males applying for a state driver's license will automatically be registered for the draft as of July 1.
 
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