New Laws for 2017

Here are summaries of some of the many laws that have gone into effect in California in 2017.

Talking and Texting While DrivingAssembly Bill 1785 makes it illegal to hold in your hand a cell phone or other wireless device while you are driving. This means that you may only use your cell phone for calls or texts if it allows for hands-free operation. If you do have your phone on a stationary mount on the vehicle’s dashboard or windshield, it must not block your line of sight to the road. Violation of this law is an infraction with a $20 fine for the first offense and a $50 fine for each subsequent offense.

Assault WeaponsSenate Bill 1446 adds to current state law regarding assault weapons by making it illegal for Californians to own, sell, or manufacture large capacity gun magazines, defined as those able to hold more than ten rounds.

Stolen FirearmsAB 1695 extends current law and makes it illegal to file with police a false report of a stolen or lost firearm.

Sexual AssaultAssembly Bill 701 changes the legal definition of rape so that it includes any form of nonconsensual sexual assault. Senate Bill 2888 states that anyone who sexually assaults another person who is unconscious or severely intoxicated because ingestion of alcohol, drugs, or medication cannot qualify for probation. This bill also prohibits judges from suspending imposition of a sentence. SB 813 removes the statute of limitations on rape and sexual assault.

Date RapeSenate Bill 1182 gives to county district attorneys the authority to file felony charges against people who possess date rape drugs and exhibit an intention to commit sexual assault. The substances cited in the legislation are GHB, flunitrazepam, and ketamine.

Powdered AlcoholSenate Bill 819 makes it illegal for anyone to make, use, sell, or possess alcohol in a powdered form. The bill also requires that the state take away the license of any business that sells, distributes, and makes powdered alcohol.

NarcoticsSenate Bill 139 makes it illegal to possess “spice,” a synthetic drug that has hospitalized an increasing number of people across the state.

Human TraffickingSenate Bill 1322 changes current state law so that anyone younger than 18 years of age cannot be charged with prostitution but will instead be viewed as a victim. This bill comes from efforts to deal with human trafficking, which unfortunately is prevalent in the Sacramento region.

Ignition Interlock DevicesSenate Bill 1046 expands the pilot program that was already in effect in Sacramento county and three other California counties and that requires people convicted of drunk driving to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicles. This program - which will go into effect statewide January 1, 2019 - requires people to blow into a device that tests for the presence of alcohol. If any alcohol is detected, the vehicle will not start. For more details on the ignition interlock device program, click here.

Computer RansomwareSenate Bill 1137 makes it a felony to infect a person’s computer with ransomware, which is software that makes the computer inoperable and inaccessible. To make the computer usable again, the person who owns it must pay a ransom to person who installed the infecting program. The frequency of these types of attacks has increased substantially in recent years.

Civil Asset ForfeitureSenate Bill 443 limits the ability of the police to seize a person’s property, including cash and cars. A criminal conviction is now required for law enforcement to seize assets valued at less than $40,000.

If you have questions about any of these laws, contact my office at (916) 442-1200.