Happy New Year! Just for you, I have scoured through the hundreds of new laws passed in California that went into effect last week. These are some of the more interesting laws and some you might even find a bit strange. What would especially interest most of us is that while the hands-free cell phone law remains in place, we can now dial while driving!
The cell phone ban was amended to specifically allow for dictating, sending, or listening to a text-based communication using voice-operations. AB 1536 amended Vehicle Code section 23123.5: “(a) A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using an electronic wireless communications device to write, send, or read a text-based communication, unless the electronic wireless communications device is specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation to dictate, send, or listen to a text-based communication, and it is used in that manner while driving.”
What is also interesting about this bill is the change to 23123.5(c): “For purposes of this section, a person shall not be deemed to be writing, reading, or sending a text-based communication if the person reads, selects, or enters a telephone number or name in an electronic wireless communications device for the purpose of making or receiving a telephone call or if a person otherwise activates or deactivates a feature or function on an electronic wireless communications device.”
While the courts may take a while to interpret this, it appears that entering in a telephone number for making a call does not violate the law. Be careful with this, however. I can’t imagine that every law enforcement officer is going to interpret this the same way, and you might end up having to really fight this in court.
AB 1812, makes a strange change in the definition of beer. Apparently, reading between the lines here, someone wants to age beer in old, used barrels, but an existing law prevents it. So this new bill revises the definition of “beer” for purposes of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act. It will change the law so that beer aged in barrels previously used to contain wine or distilled spirits shall be defined exclusively as “beer.” I’m not sure yet if this means that you will know whether or not you have “used, recycled” beer or whether you will just have to taste test…
Assembly Bill 1527 made a few changes to our gun laws. The first closed a loophole in last year’s AB 144, which banned “open carry” of handguns. It was a little strange, because according to that new law, it was legal to carry an unloaded rifle around with you.
AB 1527 closed that loophole. You are now prohibited from carrying even unloaded long guns in public places. You can still carry unloaded long guns in that sweet rack in the back window of your truck, since they are still allowed in vehicles if they are unloaded. “PC 26400(a) A person is guilty of carrying an unloaded firearm that is not a handgun in an incorporated city or city and county when that person carries upon his or her person an unloaded firearm that is not a handgun outside a vehicle while in the incorporated city or city and county.”
AB 1527 also has a small provision that says that a glove compartment no longer counts as a “locked container” for purposes of the code. So don’t rely on using a locked glove box as your locked container any more: “Section 16850 of the Penal Code is amended to read: As used in Sections . . ., “locked container” means a secure container that is fully enclosed and locked by a padlock, keylock, combination lock, or similar locking device. The term “locked container” does not include the utility or glove compartment of a motor vehicle.”
The last significant bill to pass for 2013 deals with giving Los Angeles County the right to restrict imitation firearms more strictly than state law. Senate Bill 1315 authorizes Los Angeles County to enact and enforce an ordinance that is stricter than state law regarding the manufacture, sale, possession or use of any BB device, toy gun, replica of a firearm or other device that is so substantially similar in coloration and overall appearance to an existing firearm as to lead a reasonable person to perceive that the device is a firearm and that expels a projectile that is no more than 16 millimeters in diameter.
I WANT MY PHONE CALL:
Actually, under the new law, you may get FIVE phone calls which, especially for parents will probably be a huge relief. Under the existing law, immediately upon being booked and no later than three hours after arrest, an arrested person has the right to make at least three completed telephone calls. AB 2015 requires the booking officer to ask you if you are a custodial parent with responsibility for a minor child no later than 3 hours after arrest. The officer has to inform the parent that he or she is entitled to make 2 additional telephone calls to arrange for care of a minor child.
OTHER NEW LAWS:
AB 1432, otherwise known as “Caylee’s Law” states that a parent of a child under 14 must notify a public safety agency within 24 hours if their child dies, unless the child was under the care of a physician at the time of death or the police or medical examiner are already aware. Additionally, this law requires parents to notify law enforcement within 24 hours if they believe that their child under the age of 14, is a missing person.
Several bills also expanded the duties for who is a “mandated reporter”. If you don’t know, a mandated reporter is someone who is required, by law, to report to the police any suspicion of physical or sexual child abuse. Our teachers are already included in this. AB 1434 expanded the requirement to any employee or administrator of a school whose duties bring them into contact with children on a regular basis. AB 1435 expanded it to include athletic coaches, athletic administrators, and athletic directors in schools through grade 12. AB 1817 expanded the requirement to a commercial computer technician who finds any evidence on a computer-a sign of the times for sure.
AB 1660 creates a new Child Performer Service Permit that will be required for anyone who provides services to children in the entertainment industry. More importantly, the bill prohibits a person, including a person who is licensed as a talent agent and any other person who is exempt from the above-described permit requirement, who is required to register as a sex offender, as specified, from being permitted to represent or provide specified services to artists who are minors.
AB 1708 allows you to show proof of insurance to a police officer if you get pulled over using “electronic verification”. It appears that you can use your smart phone to show proof of insurance. It also prohibits the officer from looking at anything else on your phone when you hand it to him.
A big change this year has occurred in the laws regarding social media privacy. AB 1844 prohibits employers from demanding user names, passwords or any other information related to social media accounts from employees and job applicants. Employers are banned from discharging or disciplining employees who refuse to divulge such information under the terms of the bill. Additionally, SB 1349 prohibits public and private post-secondary educational institutions from requiring students, prospective students and student groups to disclose user names, passwords or other information about their use of social media. Nothing in either of these new laws prevents an employer or a school from investigating misconduct.
AB 1950 extended the enforcement for taking money for loan modifications upfront. In the existing law, valid until January 1, 2013, any person who negotiates or arranges residential mortgage loan modifications for a fee, was prohibited, from demanding or receiving preperformance compensation, as specified, or requiring security as collateral or taking a “power of attorney” from the borrower. It makes any violation of that prohibition, a crime. This bill extended the operation of the above-described provisions indefinitely and extended the time to commence a prosecution for these offenses to 3 years from the discovery of the commission of the offense, or within 3 years after completion of the offense, whichever is later.
AB 2020 states that a person arrested on suspicion of DUI will no longer be given the option of a urine test. In previous years, the choice was given between a urine test or a blood test.
AB 2078 says that peace officers can’t have sexual activity with people while in custody and while they are arrested. (Did you ever think about WHY laws get passed?)
SB 661 makes it a crime to picket a funeral one hour before it starts through one hour after it is over.
SB 991 allows county supervisors to legally perform weddings.
SB 1172 has gotten some press. It makes it a crime to put a minor through any “sexual orientation change” therapy.
SB 1281 says that in a murder case, if a person pleads “not guilty by reason of insanity”, the court must consider drug use as a factor.
AB 2284 is the “Marijuana Growing Crackdown Law”. There have been problems with people growing marijuana in forest lands, way back where no one can see. This new law allows law enforcement to stop vehicles with visible irrigation supplies on forest roads and ask the driver if the load was legally purchased.
AB 472 is a Good Samaritan Law regarding drug over-doses. It adds HS 11376.5 states that if you have a drug overdose or if you are helping someone who has a drug overdose, you cannot be arrested for being under the influence of drugs or for having drugs in your possession.
This is a lot of good stuff, and if you want to read the actual text of any of these laws, go to: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billSearchClient.xhtml
Happy New Year!