Happy New Year. January 1st is a common time for new laws to go into effect. Here are ten of the approximately 200 laws that are new in 2012:
1. Seat belts. All drivers and passengers riding in vehicles must wear seat belts. Previously, the law didn’t include adults riding in the back seat. If you’re caught, you can be ticketed and given a fine of $25. The law does not apply to taxi passengers.
2. FOID cards. If there is an order of protection against you, the law requires you to surrender your FOID card, which is what allows a person to legally buy or possess a gun, until the order is lifted. And if you are convicted of domestic battery, you are no longer eligible to have a FOID card.
3. Fake marijuana. Possession or sale of synthetic marijuana - sold under various names such as K2 or Spice - is now a felony. If a store sells the product, it can be shut down and fined $150,000. The person who sold it can face 5 years in prison. An individual in possession faces 3 years and fines up to $25,000. The synthetic formulas vary, and the new law attempts to include them all.
4. Electronics recycling. A new law makes it illegal to throw certain kinds of electronics in the trash. There are about 17 specific things which must be recycled. The law includes televisions, laptops, printers, DVD players, computer keyboards, etc.
5. Internet bullying. A school board has the authority to expel or suspend a student from school for bullying that happens online, outside of school. Specifically, if a student makes an explicit threat, on a website, against another student or against a school employee.
6. Registry of murder convicts. An Illinois law has created a first-degree murder database, much like the sex offender registry. The database is statewide and includes information on those who have been convicted of first-degree murder and who have been released. The information will be available to the public and will include name, address, place of employment and a photograph. Registration is required for ten years after release from prison.
7. Running red lights. Motorcycle and bike riders are permitted to run red lights at certain intersections. The new law is meant to address the situation where the light change is triggered by an in-ground weight sensor that is not set off by motorcycles and bikes. Riders may run the light after a “reasonable” amount of time and after checking to make sure it’s safe, of course. This law does NOT apply in the City of Chicago, where most lights aren’t triggered by sensors in the pavement.
8. Laser lights in cockpits. It is illegal to shine a laser light into a cockpit of an airplane during take-off, landing or in flight. Seems obvious, but apparently it happens rather often. According to the FAA, pilots reported 2,800 such incidents in 2010. O’Hare was one of the most affected. Violation of this law is a misdemeanor.
9. Extra fines for drug dealing. If you are found guilty of manufacturing or delivering drugs in a situation where an emergency response was required, you can be required to pay the cost of that emergency response, as well as an additional fine of $750 or $1,000.
10. Sex offenders on campus. Illinois has put an additional requirement on sex offenders. Sex Offenders who are work at or attend an institution of higher education must register with the campus's public safety or security director, as well as with local law enforcement.
And if you don’t know any of these new rules, ignorance is not an excuse. My bet is the seat belt rule will nail a lot of unsuspecting people.
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