New 2010 Louisiana Traffic Laws and Criminal Offenses

Many new Louisiana traffic laws enacted during the 2010 Louisiana Legislative session will soon go into effect. Included in the new laws are the following:

-(effective August 15, 2010) Text messaging, using a wireless communication device while driving a motor vehicle, are now a primary offense for all Louisiana drivers. Now that the offense is primary, police officers may initiate a traffic stop for the offense alone, without having another reason to stop the motorist. The new law also prohibits persons 17 years of age or younger from operating a motor vehicle while using any “wireless telecommunications device”, including cell phones, PDAs, laptops, pagers and similar communication devices.

-(effective January 1, 2011) the amount of time a minor with a learner’s permit will spend in supervised “behind-the-wheel” training will be increased to fifty (50) hours, with at least fifteen (15) of those hours to include nighttime driving. Those drivers holding an intermediate license (unless accompanied by a parent or guardian, a licensed adult at least twenty-one (21) years of age, or a licensed sibling at least eighteen (18) years of age), are restricted from driving from 11 pm to 5 am. The law also restricts them from transporting more than one passenger that is under the age of twenty-one (21) and who is not an immediate family member.

-(effective August 15, 2010), persons riding bicycles upon a roadway with an improved shoulder, have the option of riding on that improved shoulder rather than in the lane of travel. The new law also states that every bicycle, when in use at nighttime on a state highway, parish road, or city street, must be equipped with a rear lamp that emits a red flashing light or a red light sufficient to be seen from within 100 feet to 600 feet to the rear. It also requires the use of a front headlamp at night.

-(effective August 15, 2010) driver’s education courses are required to include information on sharing the road with pedestrians, bicyclists and transit vehicles.

-(effective August 15, 2010) synthetic cannabinoids are an illegal substance and are listed as a Schedule I drug under LA R.S. 40:966. This creates the crime of the unlawful production, manufacturing, distribution, or possession of prohibited plants and adds hallucinogenic substances to Schedule I Controlled Dangerous Substances.

-(effective August 15, 2010), drug free zones are expanded from 1,000 feet to 2,000 feet from designated properties.

-(effective August 15, 2010) carrying a concealed handgun on any school, school property, or school bus is prohibited, but concealed handgun permit holders are authorized to carry a concealed handgun within 1,000 feet of school property.

-(effective August 15, 2010) the crime of pornography involving juveniles is redefined and now includes the practice of “sexting” pornographic images of juveniles.

-(effective August 15, 2010) Cyber Bullying becomes a crime and is defined as the transmission of any electronic textual, visual, written, or oral communication with the malicious and willful intent to coerce, abuse, torment, or intimidate a person under the age of 18.