New CT laws on street takeovers, juvenile crime, red light cameras and more go into effect Oct. 1
The Connecticut legislature has passed more than 100 new laws cracking down on car theft and juvenile crime, human trafficking and street takeovers, among other things, that that take effect beginning Oct. 1. At the same time, lawmakers will return to Hartford for a special session to consider other issues — notably whether to move up Connecticut’s presidential primary and whether to authorize the Secretary of the State to hire an election monitor following allegations of absentee ballot fraud in Bridgeport.
Here’s a look at the some of the new laws.
Red light cameras
On Oct. 1, Connecticut cities and towns may begin installing red light and speed cameras at intersections.
The newly approved automated traffic enforcement systems capture images of vehicles and their license plates whenever a driver triggers the camera by running a red light or driving 10 miles per hour or more above the speed limit. Each photo must include the date, time and location of the alleged violation.
Towns may impose their own fines for violations, which are issued by mail. However, penalties may not exceed $50 for first time offenses and $75 for each subsequent violation. The law also states that all municipal revenue from the fines “shall be used for the purposes of improving transportation mobility, investing in transportation infrastructure improvements or paying the costs associated with the use of automated traffic enforcement safety devices.”
Enforcement zones must be clearly marked with at least two signs and receive approval from the town’s governing body and the Connecticut Department of Transportation after a public hearing. Additionally the municipality and DOT must ensure that “distribution of such devices throughout the municipality is equitable,” meaning that the placement of enforcement zones does not reinforce, perpetuate or produce “patterns of discrimination and disparities of race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status, whether intentional or unintentional.”
Open carry ban
A state ban on open carry firearms goes into effect on Oct. 1.
Under the new law, no one may knowingly carry a firearm with the intent to display it except for during training or hunting activities, or on property that is the gun owner’s home, land or place of business. Other exceptions apply to various occupations on official duty.
“A person is not deemed to be carrying with intent to display if the person has taken reasonable measures to conceal that he or she is carrying a firearm. Neither a fleeting glimpse of a firearm nor an imprint of a firearm through someone’s clothing is a violation. It is also not a violation if a person displays a firearm temporarily while engaged in self-defense or other lawful conduct,” reads an analysis of the bill by the Office of Legislative Research.
According to OLR, first-time violators of the ban are guilty of a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in prison, a $1,000 fine, or both. Subsequent violations are considered a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in prison, a $2,000 fine or both.
The open carry ban was part of a sweeping gun control package that, among other measures, limits handgun sales to three per person per month, requires trigger locks on all firearms sold, closes loopholes in the state’s assault weapon ban, and requires registration of unserialized “ghost guns.”
All Connecticut residents will be eligible for savings on their prescriptions thanks to the launch of a new Drug Discount Card Program on Oct. 2.
By signing up for the free, digital ArrayRx discount card at arrayrxcard.com, residents can expect savings of up to 80% on certain prescription drugs, and all FDA-approved medications are eligible for a discount, according to the governor’s office.
The program is a result of legislation that allows the state comptroller to enter into a multistate consortium to lower drug costs, centralize purchases and negotiate discounts with manufacturers by pooling prescription purchasing power. The ArrayRx consortium includes Nevada, Oregon and Washington.
“Prescription drug costs are out of control, and no one in our state should have to decide between paying for essentials like rent or food and paying for the prescription they need to live,” Comptroller Sean Scanlon said in a press release. “Thanks to our partnership with ArrayRx, every Connecticut resident will have access to a free, user-friendly way to save at the pharmacy counter beginning this October.”
When power outages last for more than four days after an emergency, electric distribution companies, starting Oct. 1, must provide residential customers with a $25 account credit for each day without power and $250 for any food or medication that expires or spoils as a result of the outage.
The law defines emergencies as “any hurricane, tornado, storm, flood, high water, wind-driven water, tidal wave, earthquake, landslide, mudslide, snowstorm, drought or fire explosion that results in 69% or less of the electric distribution company’s customers experiencing an outage at the period of peak electrical demand.”
The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority has sole discretion to determine when an emergency is over and may grant electric distribution companies waivers from the compensation requirements under certain conditions.
Starting Oct. 1, the state will permit individuals to kill a black bear if the bear enters an occupied building or is imminently likely to inflict “great bodily harm” to a person or pet.
Farmers will be eligible to apply for a permit from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to kill nuisance wildlife, including bears, “that threatens or causes damage to agricultural crops, livestock or apiaries,” after exhausting nonlethal efforts to stop the damage.
The law also makes intentionally feeding potentially dangerous animals an infraction punishable by a $35 to $90 fine, plus a $20 or $30 surcharge and additional fees, according to the Office of Legislative Research.
Under a new law confessions will be inadmissible in court in cases where law enforcement used deceptive or coercive tactics during a custodial interrogation.
Prohibited tactics include “unreasonably depriving the person being interrogated of physical or mental health needs” such as food, sleep, medications, or use of a bathroom and threatening physical force, unlawful penalties, immigration sanctions on the person under interrogation or another person.
Additionally, if the person under interrogation is under the age of 18, law enforcement may not communicate information that is “false, misrepresentative, or misleading” including “false facts about evidence; false statements or misrepresentations of the law; or false or misleading promises of leniency or some other benefit or reward.”
According to the Office of Legislative Research, the rebuttable presumption the law creates may only “be overcome if the state proves by clear and convincing evidence that the admission, confession, or statement was voluntary and not induced by deception or coercive tactics and alleged use of deception or coercive tactics did not undermine the reliability of the person’s admission, confession, or statement and did not create a substantial risk that the person might falsely incriminate himself or herself.”
A new act addressing street takeovers makes it illegal for individuals to incite or recruit participation in a street takeover “by any action, method, device or means” including electronic communications and social media.
Violating the law, which goes into effect on Oct. 1, is considered a class B misdemeanor and penalties include a prison sentence of no more than six months, a fine up to $1,000, or both.
The law also expands the definition of a street takeover by including the “intent to cause disorder or create a nuisance” to the original definition of “taking over a portion of a public highway or parking area by blocking or impeding the regular flow of traffic … for other users of such highway or parking area.”
On Oct. 1, colleges and universities in the state can no longer withhold the transcripts of a current or former student from the U.S. military and present or prospective employers because the student owes a debt to the institution.
To combat human trafficking, hotel, motel and lodging operators are now prohibited from renting rooms at an hourly rate or providing a discount for rooms occupied for 12 hours or less.
Blight, littering fines
Maximum daily penalties for blighted commercial and residential properties will rise from $100 to $1,000 on Oct. 1. Fines for littering will also increase from a maximum penalty of $199 to $500.
Incarcerated individuals who were under the age of 21 at the time of offense may be eligible for parole at an earlier date if they are serving a sentence of more than 10 years and they committed their crime and received their sentence on or before Oct. 1, 2005.
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