BATON ROUGE, LA — Beginning August 1st, 2014, numerous laws and amendments passed during the 2014 Louisiana Legislative Session will affect motorists throughout the state. Troopers would like to highlight several changes that both drivers and passengers should be aware of while operating a vehicle on Louisiana’s roadways. Listed below are only a few notable changes affecting motorists; however, Troopers strongly urge citizens to familiarize themselves with all new laws, updates, and amendments coming into effect this year.
1. School Zone Cell Phone Ban: Motorists are now prohibited from using any type of hand held wireless communications device while traveling through schools zones during posted hours. The law includes use of a cellular/wireless device for engaging in a voice call, accessing, reading, or posting to a social networking site, and/or writing, sending, or reading a text-based communication. The school zone cell phone ban does not apply if the device is being used to report an emergency, is being used in a hands-free manner, or while the vehicle is lawfully parked. Upon first violation of the school zone ban the fine is $175, subsequent violations can be up to $500, and if a crash occurs during the time of the violation, fines can be increased.
2. LA Litter Law Updates: Amendments to the LA litter law now specifically include cigarettes and cigarette butts to the official definition of litter. Additionally, the fine for a first offense increases to $300 with 8 hours of community service in a litter abatement program, second offense to $700 with 16 hours of litter abatement, and a third and subsequent offense to $1500 with 80 hours of service in a litter abatement program.
3. Six Year Driver’s License Renewal: The renewal period for Louisiana driver's licenses has been extended from four years to six years with a fee increase to cover the extension of the renewal period. Fee increases vary by class of license, area of residence, and age of license applicant. (This amendment does not go into effect until July 1st, 2015).
4. Inspection Exemptions for Certain Trailers: New amendments to LA inspection sticker requirements exempt single axle two-wheeled trailers and boat trailers from state inspection requirements and the obligation to bear a valid safety inspection certificate/sticker. While exempted from the inspection process, the trailers must still possess the required safety equipment to operate on Louisiana roadways.
5. Vehicle Inspections Can be Conducted in Rain: Another amendment added to the LA inspection sticker requirements changes an old requirement that vehicle inspections stations could not inspect vehicles on rainy days. This new amendment allows vehicles to be inspected when it is raining if the conditions are safe and the vehicle can accurately be checked.
6. Increased Penalties for Fatigued Drivers in Fatal Crashes: Motorists who fail to maintain control of their vehicle due to falling asleep and directly or proximately cause the death of a human being, face increased penalties under Louisiana’s Careless Operation law. In addition to the Careless Operation penalties, motorists involved in a fatality crash may also be charged with Negligent Homicide.
7. Vehicular Homicide classified as a Crime of Violence: The act of Vehicular Homicide (causing the death of a person due to a crash where the driver was impaired) will now be classified as a crime of violence when the offender’s blood alcohol concentration exceeds 0.20 grams percent. The amended classification allows for increased penalties for impaired drivers involved in fatality crashes.
For a complete list of all laws and amendments passed during the 2014 Louisiana Legislative Session please visit: www.legis.la.gov.
Additionally, Louisiana State Police Public Information Officers are available to visit and conduct presentations at schools, businesses, community events, and all venues to speak and explain a variety of safety topics including motor vehicle safety. To reach a LSP PIO in your area visit: www.lsp.org/public.html.