The new year rang in with 948 new California State laws, effective Jan. 1, that deal with labor, guns, civil rights, health, education, taxes and public safety.
Assemblymember Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) drafted a new law placing harsher penalties on driving under the influence offenses. Under the previous law, a person convicted of committing vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated would have the charge erased from their record after 10 years and jail time. Now, the conviction will stay on for life.
“Now any [additional] DUI offenses will lead to serious jail time. DUI charges will be considered a felony conviction if they have already been charged with vehicular manslaughter,” she said.
Jackson said she was motivated to draft the bill after a drunk driver caused the death of three teenagers and was able to receive her license 10 years later, only to be pulled over for drunk driving.
“Some people have serious drinking problems and should never be behind a wheel,” Jackson said. “They are a constant threat to others.”
Another law now in effect makes a form of emergency contraception, called the morning-after pill, available over the counter. Goleta Longs Drug Store pharmacist Lawrence Saurez said pharmacists will be properly trained to distribute the pill.
“The pharmacists have to attend a class to establish physician protocols and become certified to dispense the pill,” Saurez said. “The pharmacists are also required to offer extensive patient counseling about the side effects of the pill.”
Although the law has gone into effect, many pharmacies will not carry the morning-after pill for several months, Rite Aid spokesperson Sarah Datz said. However, the pill will continue to be available through Planned Parenthood and primary physicians.
In addition to the increased availability of emergency contraception, threatening and harassing abortion clinics and their workers is now punishable by law.
The state also increased the minimum wage from $6.50 to $6.75.
Information on California state law can be found at www.leginfo.ca.gov.