New state driving laws take effect Saturday

Reported by KPLC Staff:

This Saturday, a host of new laws take effect reguarding drivers. The Louisiana State Police has released a detailed breakdown of each new law.

ACT 236 (Signed into law by Gov. Jindal on July 1, 2009), makes it a criminal offense for driving with a suspended driver's license due to a previous conviction for driving while intoxicated, vehicular manslaughter or vehicular negligent injuring. In the past, drivers that were stopped and found to be driving under suspension because of those three offenses would be ticketed and released, barring any extenuating circumstances. Under the new law, a violator can now be physically arrested for driving under suspension if the suspension is the result of a DWI , vehicular manslaughter or vehicular negligent injuring conviction. Violators could face a minimum of 15 days in jail, with a possible maximum sentence of six months. This law is currently being enforced.

ACT 166 (Effective August 15, 2009), revises the current Seat Belt Law by requiring the driver and passengers seated in both the front and rear seats of vehicles to buckle-up. The law applies to all vehicles having a gross weight of 10,000 pounds or less, which includes automobiles, vans and pick-up trucks. Violators are subject to fines of $25.00 for the first violation, $50.00 for a second violation, and $50.00 plus court cost for subsequent violations. The Louisiana Seat Belt Law is a primary offense law, meaning a law enforcement officer can stop and ticket a violator for that violation alone.

ACT 190 (Effective August 15, 2009), requires that any person operating a motor vehicle on a multi lane roadway in Louisiana must travel in the right lane and shall not drive in the left lane. If the motorist must travel in the left lane, it shall not be at a speed less than that of a vehicle traveling in the right lane. This is with the exception of vehicles preparing for a left turn at an intersection or private road or driveway, when passing another vehicle traveling the same direction, when the right lanes are congested, or when directed otherwise by law enforcement.

ACT 288 (Effective September 1, 2009), this revision increases the driver's license suspension period for violators who refuse to submit to a chemical test when arrested for DWI. Under the revision, a person refusing to submit to a chemical test when arrested for DWI would now face a driver's license suspension period of one year for the first refusal and two years for a second refusal within a five year period. There will be no eligibility for a hardship license if a fatality or serious injury crash occurs as a result of driving while intoxicated. Under previous law, a first refusal resulted in a suspension of 180 days. A second or subsequent refusal resulted in a 545-day suspension. This law will be enforced immediately upon its effective date.

ACT 147 (Effective August 15, 2009), requires that operators of a motor vehicle, when overtaking and passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on the roadway, shall leave a safe distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle of not less than three feet and maintain that clearance until they safely past the bicycle.

ACT 175 (Effective August 15, 2009) revises and strengthens the current vehicle window tint laws, which currently exempts those with certain medical conditions from being required to have legal window tint on their vehicles. Under the new law, applicants for the exemption will need to have their physician provide a sworn affidavit to law enforcement outlining the specific medical condition and their necessity for darker than legal window tint. Only certain medical conditions designated by the World Health Organization will be recognized as valid reasons for exemption.
Troopers will be issuing warnings only for Acts 166, 147 and 190 through October 1, 2009. All other new legislation will be fully enforced on their effective dates.