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Our View: New year, new laws

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

Whether you spent New Year’s Eve with a quiet evening at home or went out and partied to ring in 2014, when you woke up today morning, a number of new laws were in effect in Illinois.

Perhaps the biggest is that speaking on your cellphone while driving now is illegal unless you are using a hands-free device. Fines for being cited for using a hand-held cellphone while driving a vehicle range from $75 to $150.

You probably are aware of some of the other new laws that received a lot of exposure when they were passed, including the legalization of medical marijuana. Patients suffering from certain diseases can now use marijuana as treatment with a doctor’s permission.

Other new laws that go into effect today:

• Cigarette butts are now considered litter and disposing of them by flicking them aside could get you a $50 fine.

• Taking parenting away from parents, it now is illegal for anyone under 18 to use indoor tanning equipment.

• The new pet lemon law will mandate a refund, replacement or reimbursement for veterinary costs from the seller if you buy a pet with an undisclosed illness.

• You still can’t speed through construction zones, but if you do and workers aren’t present, your fine will not be as high.

• Speaking of speed, some interstate speed limits will be increasing to 70 mph.

• 17-year-olds will be allowed to vote in a primary election if they will turn 18 before the general election.

• School buses are now allowed to have video cameras on board to record motorists who pass buses illegally. Those videos can be shared with police.

• It is now illegal to wantonly waste or destroy usable meat from game animals.

• Schools are not allowed to ask for or demand a student’s social networking password without cause.

• Public school sex-education courses offered to sixth- through 12th-graders must cover abstinence and contraception.

A complete list can be found online at http://shawurl.com/xfm.

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