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New laws for Californians
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Each year, the California State Legislature passes hundreds of new laws that affect the state's population in various ways. The vast majority of new laws do not touch the average person's life, because most are measures to regulate "civil" activities; only a few have the potential for affecting all of us. The types of laws that have the potential for affecting most everyone are those regulating motorists and anti-criminal behaviour. Below, you will find new laws, most of which you should be aware of, that took effect Jan. 1.

The new California booster seat law outlaws parents, guardians, or motorists from transporting any child under eight years old in a motor vehicle without securing the child in an appropriate child restraint meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards. Children under eight years of age who are 4'9" inches in height or taller may use a safety belt rather than a child safety or booster seat.

Unloaded handguns may no longer be carried in plain sight in public places. Prior to this law taking effect, persons who could legally possess or carry an unloaded handgun could do so in public places as long as it was in plain view. To do so now constitutes a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.

California Vehicle Code Section 23579, regarding intoxicated driving, authorizes courts to revoke a driver's license for 10 years if a person is convicted of three or more DUIs. Motorists may apply for reinstatement of their license with the DMV after five years if the driver installs an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in their vehicle.

California motorists were formerly allowed to cross double solid white lines, but now the vehicle code prohibits it except where expressly permitted. This is an infraction violation that can result in a fine and reflect on a motorist's driving record.

Local governments can now regulate advertising signs on any motor vehicle parked or left standing upon a public street, except for signs painted directly upon or permanently affixed to the vehicle for permanent decoration, identification, or display that do not extend beyond the overall length, width, or height of the vehicle

There is also now a law that, later this year, will affect Internet businesses (ones that have a physical presence in this state) requiring them to collect California sales tax on transactions and remit the money collected to the California state government.

The Renters Right to Recycle Act (AB 818) was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, mandating recycling services for paper, plastic, bottles and cans in apartment buildings with five or more rental units.

The Reader Privacy Act was passed to prevent the government and third parties from accessing private reading records without proper legal justification. Specifically, information obtained from the Internet regarding use of online book services to browse, purchase, and read books, can no longer be gathered without a legal court order.

Minors (persons under the age of 18) will now need a prescription to purchase any drug containing dextromethorphan, including over the counter medications like Robitussin, NyQuil and Dimetapp.

These are just some of the highlights of the 747 new laws that went into effect this year. More information can be found by researching on the web.