Louisiana rings in new year with many new laws

Louisiana rings in new year with many new laws

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - More than two dozen new laws went into effect in Louisiana when 2015 rolled in Thursday morning and several of them deal with politics, but some are more for your health and safety.

One new law, supported by MADD, has stricter penalties for people suspected of DWI.

"It's dealing with 21 and under," said Valerie Cox, the director of the Louisiana MADD chapter.

According to Cox, before 2015, anyone underage found to be intoxicated only had to go to a substance abuse driving program. The new law now delivers similar penalties to those for the 21 and older crowd.

Anyone under 21 convicted of a first offense DWI will face a minimum of 10 days in jail and not more than three months. They will also have to do 32 hours of community service. A second offense increases the minimum jail sentence.

Cox said she hopes the new law will deter younger people from drinking and driving, she adds the penalties now makes them more responsible for their actions.

"Our point on this is zero tolerance, but we want the laws to be stronger if they do decide they're going out to drink. Let them know that behind every decision is a consequence and that consequence is jail time. Hopefully, they will look at that and take it more seriously," she explained.

Another new law aims to cut back on secondhand smoke. State Rep. Frank Hoffman, R-West Monroe, authored the smoking bill during the 2014 legislative session. It makes it illegal to smoke within 25 feet of an entrance to a state building. Smoking near wheelchair ramps is also prohibited.

A spokesman for the Baton Rouge Police Department said officers will ticket anyone who disregards the law. The East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office and Louisiana State Police also have the same power.

The fines for breaking the new smoking law:

$25 for the first offense

Another new law allows 16-year-olds getting their driver's licenses to register to vote. However, they will not be able to vote until they turn 18.

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