New laws normally come in to effect every January, and this year is no different. I will get right down to probably the most controversial law change this year, the "Open Carry" law.
In California prior to 2012, it was legal for someone who could lawfully own a firearm to carry an unloaded firearm in plain view. The gun had to be unloaded and not concealed. What that essentially meant was that a citizen could strap a handgun onto their belt as long as it was not covered by a shirt or anything else. They could also have a loaded magazine right next to the gun on the belt. As of January 2012, this is against the law.
This law change is one for the parents and young adults who furnish alcohol to persons under the age of 21. Prior to 2012, the law stated that a host who furnished alcohol to a partygoer could not be held civilly liable for damages to a third party if the partygoer caused damage to another person.
Now if a parent or another person over the age of 21 provides alcohol to someone under the age of 21, they can be held civilly liable if the person causes any damage to anyone else. For example, a parent hosts a party and people under the age of 21 consumes alcohol then drives away and causes an accident; the host of the party can be sued for damages.
Cough syrup — sounds so innocuous that you are probably asking yourself, why would our government be making laws about this? Well, I remember back in high school an acquaintance of mine once told me about drinking a bunch of cough syrup to get high and hallucinating.
I didn't really believe her and I had no desire to find out for myself either. Well, it turns out she was right. It's called robo-tripping after the most common brand of cough syrup, Robitussin that contains Dextromethorphan (DXM). At prescribed dosages the medicine suppresses coughing. However, at higher dosages it first produces typical alcohol intoxication symptoms moving on to varying levels of hallucinations.
This has reported to happen with as little as double the recommend dose. Robo-tripping has been made popular by rap stars and as a result has become popular with teens. Prior to 2012 a teenager could walk into a store, purchase some cough syrup and become so intoxicated they would have little to no idea what they were doing. Abuse of DXM can cause lesions on the brain, paranoia and death. Now a minor cannot purchase cough syrup.
Another drug-related change has to with a couple of items often sold as "incenses" and "bath salts." Prior to 2012, "smoke shops" (and I'm not talking about the ones that sell cartoons of the cancer stick on the cheap) had on their shelves pouches of mixed herbs labeled as incense. If you took a closer look at the package you could see it was meant to be smoked. Brands such as Spice and K2 contained plant material mixes that when smoked would give the user a high similar to marijuana.
Another product you could buy in a Smoke Shop back in 2011 was seemingly safe bath salts. But these salts wouldn't be the type you would give your sweetie for a soak in the bath. Again upon better inspection of the packaging you should be able to tell that it was designed to be smoked or snorted like methamphetamine! These "salts" contain MDPV, short for methylenedioxypyrovalerone, close cousin to methamphetamine and has the same dangers. They are packaged under the names of "Ivory Wave," "White Lightning," and "Vanilla Sky" to name a few. It is now illegal to for anyone to sell or furnish these types of products.
And an addition to the vehicle code will be a source of discussion for the next few months. If a child is under eight years old or under 4'9" tall, they must be secured in a child restraint seat in the back seat area of the car, if possible. If you have any questions about this new law, go to the DMV website at www.dmv.ca.gov.