, Land Line state legislative editor | Monday, July 30, 2012
Louisiana law enforcement will begin enforcing multiple new rules on Wednesday, Aug. 1, which cover trucks, first-time drivers, uninsured vehicles and drunken driving.
One new law will bring Louisiana’s commercial driver’s licensing rules in compliance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
Lengthier license suspensions will be imposed for drivers caught violating an out-of-service order. Getting behind the wheel of a truck subject to an OOS order will result in the driver’s license being suspended for six months. Currently, state law authorizes 90-day suspensions.
The new law also addresses a separate safety issue.
Louisiana law already prohibits texting while driving any vehicle. The change specifically prohibits the distracting activity while driving truck.
Violations would be considered a “serious traffic violation.”
A separate rule change is designed to get more uninsured vehicles off Louisiana roadways.
State law already authorizes towing of uninsured vehicles when a driver cannot provide proof of insurance on second and subsequent violations. Starting Wednesday, towing is authorized after a first violation of the state’s mandatory vehicle insurance law.
Two more new laws address driving while intoxicated. The first law clarifies rules on law enforcement officers’ ability to use multiple tests to assess suspected drunken drivers’ impairment. Refusal of testing could result in the suspension of the offender’s driving privileges.
Another new law requires repeat offenders to serve jail time. Specifically, offenders would spend at least 30 days behind bars if they are convicted twice within one year.
No longer would offenders be eligible for parole, probation, or suspension of the sentence.
Also taking effect this week are new training requirements for the many of the state’s youngest drivers. Specifically, first-time drivers that are 17 years old face the same number of classroom training hours as well as behind-the-wheel time as younger applicants for driving privileges.
Teens age 17 will be responsible for completing 30 hours of classroom training – up from six hours – and eight hours of practice behind the wheel to apply for their first driver’s license. Existing law does not require behind-the-wheel driving practice.
In addition to six hours of classroom training, anyone at least 18 years old seeking a first-time license must complete eight hours of driving practice. Until now, affected applicants did not have a requirement for driving time.
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