New California laws to take effect Jan. 1

December 29, 2010 9:33:38 AM PST
We are going to see a number of new laws going into effect starting on the first of the new year and some of the new legislation aims at issues ranging from prisoners' problems to pot.

California starts the year by downgrading possession of an ounce or less of marijuana from a misdemeanor to an infraction.

Though the fine remains $100, there's no jail time or notation on your criminal record.

"It also unclogs our overburdened court system, which so often gets dragged down because they these simple possession for marijuana, and it's difficult to get into a courtroom," St. Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, said.

Also in a cost-cutting move, the state will be releasing severely sick or dying inmates through medical parole. That's causing public safety concerns among Republicans who call the guidelines too dangerous.

"It's going to allow for the release of sex offenders, murderers just because they got a note from their doctor; not because the judge that sentenced them has said they deserve to be let out early," Assembly Republicans Spokesman Seth Unger said.

New road laws help ring in the new year. The paparazzi, known to surround or block celebrities while driving, just to take their picture, may be liable for damages under false imprisonment. You also might see a Blue Alert on those highway signs telling you an officer is down and the suspect is still on the loose. It's similar to an Amber Alert for a missing child. And if you have one of those yellow hybrid stickers, you'll still be able to use the carpool lane as a solo driver six more months.

"When you're running late for work and you have a meeting, it's wonderful to be in that carpool lane," carpool sticker holder Kathy Lynch said.

California is also helping you be healthier. All those baked goods from breads to pastries that are made locally can no longer have artery-clogging trans fats.

"I'm a fan of the healthier tasting foods, and so I think it's a good thing. It'll help other people who maybe aren't too kind of jump on board," healthy eater Anna Shah said.

Lastly, lawmakers went after some Internet users. It'll be a misdemeanor to impersonate someone if the intention is to deceive or injure another person.


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