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A list of new and amended laws went into effect Sunday, October 1. Residents throughout the state will be greatly affected by many of the changes.

From changes in traffic laws to Marijuana possession expungement, from criminal records to updates, to policies in the educational system, many of Maryland’s citizens will be significantly impacted by the new laws took that effect on October 1. The new laws will influence a wide range of statewide polices such as rape and sexual abuse cases, gas drilling, and animal cruelty. Some are effective on the statewide level while others impact on the local level.

The most significant policy changes are highlighted below.

Driving

  • Drivers are allowed to pass the driver ahead on the right shoulder — only if the vehicle is making a left turn and the driver stays on the pavement
  • Tow trucks can now use HOV lanes while on call
  • Operating a snowmobile or ATV on highways requires a driver’s license
  • Decorative objects can not be hung from rear view mirrors — could be fined should they be pulled over under suspicion of another traffic violation
  • Drivers who possess a commercial license and are not in compliance with court ordered child support requirements are granted 120 days to get up to speed before the MVA revokes the license

Sexual Abuse

  • Rape and sexual assault offense cases are classified as first and second-degree rape
  • Child advocacy centers and hospitals are required to submit rape kits to police within a 30-day time frame
  • Police are required to hold evidence collected in sexual assault cases for 20 years
  • Victims are not required to provide proof of physical resistance to prove that a sexual assault occurred

Child Abuse

  • Child abuse is defined as intentionally causing physical or mental injury by an individual who has circumstantial authority over a child
  • Animal cruelty is defined as failing to provide pets with protection
  • Aggravated animal cruelty is defined within the parameters of beating, torturing, mutilating and killing of pets and animals
  • Anyone convicted of injuring or killing a pet can be fined as much as $10,000

Educational System

  • University of Maryland System schools must have drug/alcohol addiction recovery programs in place
  • Art therapists will be reimbursed for services through insurance plans

Crime

  • Those who have committed murder under the influence of controlled dangerous substances can have a sentence of five years maximum
  • The ability to have marijuana possession offenses expunged if good cause is shown
  • Common law battery convictions can only be requested to be expunged 15 years after completing a jail sentence
  • Entries listed on driving records cannot be expunged in cases in which another person was killed

Gas Drilling

  • Statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing in oil and natural gas production
  • State attorney general has the authority to sue companies who violate the prohibition of unjustly raising the price of generic prescription drugs
  • “Amber’s Law” allows victims to request that offenders be tracked by electronic monitoring devices request, in addition to restraining orders

You can read the Maryland General Assembly’s full list here.

What are your thoughts on the new laws? Let us know in the comments.

Featured image courtesy of Maryland Injury Law Blog.

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