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New 2017 California Laws You Need to Know

With the November elections behind us and a New Year ahead, many new legal changes are set to take effect that will likely greatly impact life for Californians. To help clear up some confusion and let you know what to expect in the coming months, our team of Santa Rosa criminal defense attorneys has put together a brief summary major new California laws for 2017 and their categories.

New Driving and Traffic Laws

  • Children younger than 2 years of age must sit in rear-facing car seats.
  • Individuals convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) must install an ignition interlock device in their cars.
  • Texting and driving restrictions now include other distractions such as playing Pokémon Go
  • New rules regarding motorcycle lane splitting will restrict the speed at which riders may drive between cars along the lane line.
  • Rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft may no longer hire registered sex offenders, violent felons, or individuals with DUI convictions within the past seven years.
  • Rideshare drivers may not drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.04% or more – half the legal limit for ordinary motorists.
  • Charter bus drivers must provide written or video instructions to passengers regarding the proper use of safety equipment and emergency exits.
  • School districts will be required to improve bus driver training to avoid students being left alone on buses and must inform the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if students are left behind.

Crime and Punishment Laws

  • Rape and certain other sexual crimes committed after December 31st, 2016 will no longer be subject to a 10 year statute of limitations. In other words, victims can now report a crime at any point and see it prosecuted.
  • Prison time is now mandatory for individuals convicted of assault in which the victim was unconscious or otherwise unable to provide consent due to intoxication.
  • Prosecutors may now pursue felony charges against individuals caught with common date-rape drugs and who have shown intent to commit sexual assault.
  • Convicted sex offenders involved in internet-related crimes must report their email addresses, usernames, and other internet aliases to police.
  • Police will encounter greater difficulty seizing cash, cars, or property before an individual is convicted. A conviction will now be required before the police may permanently take assets valued less than $40,000.
  • Publishing the addresses of domestic violence victims is now banned.
  • It is now illegal to possess a synthetic drug known as “spice.” A first offense is classified as an infraction, whereas subsequent offenses are considered misdemeanors.
  • Children may no longer be charged with prostitution, with adults who perform or solicit prostitution no longer facing mandatory minimum sentences.
  • Using ransomware, malware, or other intrusive software to withhold data until money is paid is now a crime.
  • Students may now be expelled from public schools for sexting or bullying through video.

Gun Restrictions

  • Semi-automatic rifles equipped with a bullet button allowing magazine removal may no longer be sold, with existing owners being required to register such weapons with the state.
  • Falsely reporting a firearm to be lost or stolen is now a misdemeanor offense, warranting a 10-year ban on owning a firearm if convicted.
  • Concealed carry licenses will now be uniform throughout the state and will no longer vary between issuing counties.
  • Police and concealed-weapon permit holders who leave guns in cars must lock them in a safe box or trunk.

Government Changes

  • Felons serving sentences in county jails may now vote in California elections.
  • Voters may legally take a selfie with their completed ballot.
  • Voters may legally give their sealed ballot to anyone to mail or personally deliver.
  • More cities and counties offer public financing of political campaigns.
  • City councils and county boards must publicly announce pay and benefit increases for government executives to be approved by a vote.

At the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C., our Santa Rosa criminal defense lawyers are closely following these legislative changes and the legal consequences they will carry. For more information on any of the above laws or to find out how our team of award-winning advocates can defend you against your criminal charges, dial (707) 418-5352 or contact our office online today.