OUR OPINION: New highway laws are in effect

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Nearly 30 new laws enacted by the legislature went into effect Aug. 15.

Some of the most important will directly affect everyone who drives a car and the safety of everyone who rides on the highways.

It is now a criminal offense for driving with a suspended driver’s license due to a prior conviction for DWI, vehicular manslaughter or vehicular negligent injuring. Drivers stopped for these three offenses were previously ticketed and released; they can now be physically arrested if the suspension derives from DWI, vehicular manslaughter or a negligent injuring conviction with a vehicle.

ACT 166 requires that driver and passengers in both the front and rear seats buckle up. Under Louisiana’s seat belt law police can stop and ticket violators for not being buckled up, rather than just issuing a ticket along with another primary offense.

Act 190 requires that drivers on multi-lane roadways travel in the right lane and do not drive  in the left lane. If a motorist has to drive in the left lane, the driver’s speed can not be less than that of the vehicle traveling in the right lane. There are exceptions to this law including, of course, passing another vehicle while traveling in the same direction.

Act 288 increases the driver’s license suspension period for violators who refuse to submit to testing when arrested for DWI. Under the new law, a person who refuses to submit to testing when arrested will face a suspension of one-year for the first such refusal, and two years for the second refusal within a 5-year time frame.

Act 147 requires drivers to be more cognizant of bicyclists by leaving a safe distance of not less than three feet between car and bicycle when passing a bike proceeding in the same direction on a roadway.

Act 147 revises and strengthens window tint laws. Under the new law, persons with a medical  exemption allowing more tint than the legal limit must have their physician provide a sworn affidavit outlining the specific medical condition that requires a darker window tint.

State trooper will issue warnings for Acts 166, 147 and 190 through Oct. 1.

The other law are in effect now.

These laws seem sensible, and well thought out.

Motorists should buckle up and obey these and all laws of the road. We’ll be safer for it and and our insurance rates will be positively affected.