Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Laws

Courtesy of the UT, here's a list of new laws taking effect today.


  • Drivers convicted of serious traffic violations, such as drunken driving, will no longer be able to automatically erase the blemish on their DMV driving record by attending a traffic school. Most insurers use DMV records to set individual rates.
  • Products to shield licenses from red-light cameras, toll-booth cameras or other license-plate readers are banned from sale.
  • Fines for illegally parking in spaces reserved for the disabled can lead to significantly higher fines, up to $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for three or more tickets. The current fine is $250.
  • First-time drunken drivers who cause fatal accidents will no longer be able to plead ignorance to avoid gross vehicular manslaughter or second-degree murder convictions.


  • The state will launch a rebate program for businesses and homeowners who invest in solar-powered water heaters, financed through an estimated 13-cent surcharge on monthly gas bills.
  • A $1 fee on every new car sold will fill a special account to reimburse customers forced to make two payments when unscrupulous dealerships fail to pay off the loan balance on a trade-in.


  • Hunters cannot use lead bullets in endangered condor territory, which mostly stretches along the coast from Los Angeles to Ventura and in some parts of the Eastern Sierra range, starting with the fall season.
  • The California Energy Commission must develop tougher efficiency standards for light bulbs by the end of 2008.


  • Most hospitals will have to provide hearing tests for newborn children. More than 100,000 children born every year were not being screened.
  • Raw milk will face tougher bacteria standards, a law some producers say will be difficult to meet.
  • Costume jewelry mostly marketed to teenagers and children containing high levels of hazardous lead can no longer be sold in California after March 1.


  • Local governments cannot force landlords to refuse to rent to illegal immigrants – a response to a since-discarded Escondido City Council ordinance.
  • Licensed contractors cannot refuse gay or disabled customers.
  • Tanning salons are required to obtain written permission from a parent or guardian, in person, before a minor younger than 14 can enter a booth.


  • Most businesses with 25 or more employees must provide spouses with up to 10 days of unpaid time off when a husband or wife returns home temporarily from military duty overseas.
  • National Guard members will be eligible to join the state pension system.
  • Service members will receive enrollment priority in the California State University system, but not in the University of California system.

Horse racing

  • An additional 45 satellite wagering sites will be allowed to open.
  • Jockeys, who now earn minimum riding fees of between $33 and $105 each time they race depending on the size of the purse, will be guaranteed more money.


  • A new husband who wants to take his wife's last name can declare that intention on county-issued marriage licenses, rather than go through an arduous legal process.
  • Parents of stillborn children can request a special certificate recognizing the child and family, under the Missing Angels Act.
  • Pets can be included in protective orders in domestic violence cases.

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