New laws targeting motorists have taken effect, including a ban on using cell phones in school zones and cigarettes and cigarette butts being labeled as litter.
Motorists are now prohibited from using any type of hand-held wireless communications device while traveling through school zones during posted hours. The law includes use of the devices for phone calls as well as texting or posting to social media.
The fine for violating the law is $175 and subsequent violations can be up to $500. If a crash occurs during the time of the violation, fines can be increased.
Amendments to the state’s litter law also specifically include cigarettes and cigarette butts for the first time.
The fine for a first littering offense is $300 with eight hours of community service. A second offense is $700 with 16 hours of community service and on a third offense the fine increases to $1,500 with 80 hours of service picking up litter.
Another new law increases the penalties for fatigued drivers involved in fatal crashes. Motorists who cause a person’s death because they fell asleep at the wheel will face increased penalties under the state’s Careless Operation law.
In addition to increased penalties, drivers may also be charged with negligent homicide.
Vehicular homicide (causing the death of a person due to a crash where the driver was impaired) will also be classified as a crime of violence when the offender’s blood alcohol concentration exceeds 0.20 grams percent.
The amended classification allows for increased penalties for impaired drivers involved in fatality crashes.Other changes include:
•Six-year driver’s license renewal: The renewal period for Louisiana driver’s licenses has been extended from four years to six years with a fee increase to cover the extension of the renewal period. Fee increases vary by class of license, area of residence and age of license applicant.
• Inspection exemptions for certain trailers: New amendments to inspection sticker requirements exempt single axle two-wheeled trailers and boat trailers from state inspection requirements and the obligation to bear a valid safety inspection certificate/sticker. While exempt from the inspection process, the trailers must still possess the required safety equipment to operate on Louisiana roadways.
•Vehicle inspections can be conducted in rain: Another amendment added to the inspection sticker requirements changes an old requirement that vehicle inspections stations could not inspect vehicles on rainy days. This new amendment allows vehicles to be inspected when it is raining if the conditions are safe and the vehicle can accurately be checked.
For a complete list of all laws and amendments passed during the 2014 Louisiana Legislative Session please visit: www.legis.la.gov.