Every year new laws come into effect in the state of California. Most people aren’t even aware of the new changes. Because of this, some people get in trouble for breaking a law they didn’t even know existed. Here, we will go over some of the new changes in the Golden State. Please note that this post isn’t supposed to cover all the new laws, just some of the more interesting ones.
Civil Rights for Undocumented People
People who are in the U.S. without authorization or who are non-English speakers will get new protections. The Unruh Civil Rights Act will get new additions which prohibit discrimination based on immigration status or perceived immigration status. The law only protects the customers of a business in California. It does not make new protections for employees of California businesses.
Firearms Prohibited on School Campus
Most people may not carry a concealed firearm on school property. The only exception is for law enforcement individuals who have special authorization by the school. Teachers and school staff are still not allowed to carry weapons.
College Police Investigation Techniques
Police departments on college campuses may now use body cameras and pretext phone calls. These methods may be used when investigating certain types of crime.
Police Need Warrants for Digital Info
From 2016 on, police need to obtain a warrant before accessing someone’s digital records such as e-mail or texts. Photos are also included in this law. The new requirement is part of the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act. The law will also apply to the controversial StingRay tool that tracks cell phone locations. The only exceptions to the new law are in emergency situations. Criminal defense lawyers may be able to use this new requirement to ensure their clients are not subject to unreasonable searches and seizures.
Student Online Personal Information Protection Act
Students from kindergarten age to high school will get more protection when it comes to their online activity. At the most basic level, this law will prohibit educational services companies from selling student data to other companies. Companies will also be banned from making profiles of students and from using any student data to create targeted advertising.
No More Earbuds While Driving
While Bluetooth devices are allowable under current law, a new law is banning use of earbuds or headphones while driving. It is also illegal to use over the ear headphones while operating a vehicle. This law covers operators of both cars and bicycles! There are very slim exceptions to this rule for those operating safety vehicles while using safety earplugs.
Traffic Citation Amnesty Program
People who have racked up traffic fines will be glad to hear about this new program. This program can reduce unpaid fines up to 80% for qualifying drivers. To qualify, you must have not made payments after 09/30/15 to collections for bail or fine amounts already due. This program will not be available for people who have been charged with a DUI, reckless driving, or parking offenses. For more information, visit the DMV website.
2016 At a Glance
This new laws this year are mostly related to providing more protections for California residents. Again, this list is not exhaustive. If you want more information about all the new laws taking effect, you should visit this site.
*This page is not intended to provide legal advice. For the most accurate information regarding new laws, visit the California Legislature’s site.