From the weighty to the trivial, and the mundane to the arcane, some new laws take effect Jan. 1. Here is a quick review of a few new laws, rounded up by the state House Information Service.
Criminologists such as Carnegie Mellon University’s Alfred Blumstein point out that millions of Americans continue to feel the effects of youthful legal indiscretions many years later, with arrest records keeping them from getting jobs or housing. According to an article in the journal Pediatrics, 30 percent of Americans will have been arrested by age 23, a legal stain that can be hard to wash away.
Judges always could expunge a judicial record, but a new Minnesota law will allow them to also seal nonjudicial arrest and investigative records, which can show up on background checks for jobs or housing. There are exceptions, and the defendant will have the records expunged only under certain conditions, such as if he or she has successfully completed a diversionary program and not reoffended.
More training, kiddo
As the Star Tribune reported this month, teen driving schools have been jammed as prospective teen drivers tried to beat a state law that goes into effect Jan. 1, ramping up training requirements.
The number of practice hours with a licensed adult rises from 30 to 40, and teens will have to submit a written log that documents the dates, number of minutes driven and skills practiced. (Note to teen drivers: Texting while driving is not a skill to be practiced.)
The adult who supervised must sign the driving log. Parents can attend a 90-minute public safety awareness class. If they don’t, the teen must complete another 10 hours of supervised driving, for a total of 50.
Fatal car crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers. Last year there were 12,384 Minnesota crashes in which a teen 15 to 19 years old was driving. That resulted in 8,784 injuries and 38 fatalities, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
A new law mandates more stringent requirements for public beaches with lifeguards. The lifeguards now must be certified by the American Red Cross or an equivalent program, and be trained and certified in CPR and first aid for adults and kids. (The law does not require all public beaches to be staffed with lifeguards.) The measure, known as Tony Caine’s Law, is named after a 6-year-old who drowned in Wirth Lake in Minneapolis in 2012.
License plate recognition
Minnesota’s women veterans will get a special license plate all their own that will identify them as “WOMAN VETERAN.” The plate joins several others that recognize military service, as well as more than 200 other specialized Minnesota plates.