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Hundreds of New Laws Take Effect in Louisiana

On August 15, more than 600 new laws took effect in Louisiana, with varying intentions and consequences. While some address developing issues of nationwide concern, others seek to clarify existing laws or increase the penalties for existing crimes.

Addressing Growing Problems

Those laws that are most likely to affect the day-to-day lives of people in Louisiana are those that have developed as issues of national concern. For example, the use of cell phones while driving has garnered the attention of lawmakers across the United States. As the dangers of distracted driving become increasingly apparent, the laws and penalties become increasingly rigid.

Under the newest Louisiana laws, police can stop drivers under the age of 18 who are talking on their phones, or any drivers who are sending text messages while driving. Previously, these were secondary offenses, meaning that drivers could only be ticketed when already stopped for other traffic violations.

Several laws are intended to address developing issues with youth and technology.

One new law aims to prevent sexting, the practice of sending sexually explicit text messages. Another establishes the crime of cyber-bulling, the sending of text messages or electronic message with the intent to torment or intimidate someone under the age of 18.

A new law banning the sale of K2, a synthetic marijuana-like substance, also took effect last month. This has similarly caught the attention of law enforcement and legislators nationwide – Louisiana is among the first states to institute a complete ban, but many states are likely to follow suit.

Increasing Penalties and Closing Loopholes

Some of the new laws reflect an attempt to close existing loopholes. For instance, while cockfighting has been prohibited in the state for two years, a new law also makes it a crime to attend, bet on, or purchase admission to these fights. Another law seeks to provide additional protections for historic districts and buildings by increasing the penalties for vandalism in these areas.

More Controversial Laws

Legislators have also passed several unique laws, which are garnering a bit more attention. Under a new law, in certain circumstances people of faith can now carry weapons to services with the approval of the relevant house of worship. Another new law requires any woman seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound and to be given a copy of the image.

Of course, for some, the mere act of adding more than 600 new laws is controversial. As Jim Brandt, president of the non-partisan Public Affairs Research Council told The Times-Picayune, “who knew we needed another 660 laws in Louisiana?”

If you have been charged with a violation of a new or existing law, it is important to ensure that your rights and interests are protected. Speak with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to discuss your situation and your options.

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