Motorists and others who receive traffic tickets in Louisiana now are responsible for paying a little extra to support public defenders in the state. Additional efforts to improve safety on the state’s roadways are also on the books.
Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law a bill to raise the $35 fee that benefits the indigent defender program. The state program provides lawyers to criminal defendants who cannot afford representation.
Effective immediately, HB325 increases the $35 fee attached to traffic tickets and on guilty verdicts $10 to $45. In addition to traffic fines, the fee is levied on criminal defendants who plead no contest, are convicted or forfeit bonds.
A fiscal note on the bill estimates that public defender offices throughout the state will share as much as $5.9 million annually.
The new law includes a provision for the fee to revert to $35 in Aug. 2016, unless lawmakers vote to extend it.
Also signed into law by the governor is a bill to strengthen mandatory penalties for drunk drivers.
HB47 requires repeat offenders of the state’s driving while intoxicated law to serve jail time. Specifically, offenders would spend at least 30 days behind bars if they are convicted twice within one year.
No longer will offenders be eligible for parole, probation, or suspension of the sentence.
In addition to jail time, offenders would be required to participate in a court-approved substance abuse and driver impairment program.
The change takes effect Aug. 1.
Another new law effective Aug. 1 will take more uninsured vehicles off roadways.
Louisiana law authorizes towing of uninsured vehicles when a driver cannot provide proof of insurance on second and subsequent violations.
HB1053 authorizes towing after a first violation of the state’s mandatory vehicle insurance law.
To view other legislative activities of interest for Louisiana, click here.
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