The Cop Column
October, 2003
Sgt Rick Hord, Public Information Officer

Some New Laws Now in Effect

Many of the laws passed by the 2003 Legislature have recently become effective, on either July 1 or October 1. Let's take an abbreviated look at some of them:

Our lawmakers extensively re-wrote the cable-TV theft statute to keep up with technology. Also on the tech front: "Cyberstalking" is now just as illegal as the old-fashioned kind. Another bill updates several topics related to Internet Fraud and Identity Theft.

Alone in your ILEV in the HOV? Worry not. "Inherently Low Emission Vehicles" are now authorized to use carpool ("High Occupancy Vehicle") lanes, regardless of how many occupants are on board.

Drunk drivers who may have heard an appeals court suppressed urine test results as evidence, be warned: that loophole has been closed.

Hit and Run drivers, also be warned: new sentencing guidelines increase the amount of incarceration judges may impose.

Private schools that use school busses now must check at least once each year to catch any drivers with suspended or revoked licenses.

Possessing turtle eggs of certain species is one of the new crimes under the "Marine Turtle Protection Act." Turtles may not fight, but revisions to the Animal Fighting law cover "roosters, other birds, dogs, bears, and other animals." Anyone involved in breeding, training, transporting, selling, owning, or possessing animals or equipment for animal fighting... or betting on animal fights... may feel the recently-expanded teeth of this law.

What you read is your own business. Library registration and circulation records are now confidential. Also now confidential are photos of any part of a victim of certain sex crimes, even if the image does not identify the victim. Sex crime offenders who are prohibited from living within 1,000 feet of a school, daycare, playground or other place where children congregate, now know that means straight line distance from the nearest boundary. Walking or driving routes don't count. The previous wording didn't specify how to measure the 1,000 feet. We may eventually see more sex crime convictions, because there's now no statute of limitations for some crimes if the victim was under 18 at the time of the offense.

Condominium associations cannot prohibit their owners from proudly flying the flags of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard five days of the year: Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, and Veterans' Day.

If you're trying to collect on a bad check, the legally-required written demand for payment need no longer sent by registered or certified mail, regular first-class will now suffice.

An "Honest Government Act" addresses bid tampering, misuse of privileged information, bribery, and other ethics-related issues, many with tougher penalties than before.

Diet pills... even non-prescription ones... are now for adults only. It's illegal to sell, furnish, deliver or give such a pill to anybody under 18.

Summarizing all of new laws would make a very lengthy and boring column. I've attempted to mention only a few of the more interesting laws, including some you may not see reported in most media outlets.