BY MELANIE WADE –
Several new laws took effect in the state on July 31, 2017, including one that has a harsher penalty for those who choose to text and drive. The laws were set to go into effect 90 days after being passed by the Arkansas General Assembly.
As lawmakers try to combat texting and driving, they have increased penalties for violators. A first offense for texting while driving will go from a warning to a fine of up to $250. The law also clarifies that using Facebook or other social media counts as texting.
It is also now illegal for persons to carry an open container of alcohol in a car where the driver or passenger can get to it, according to Act 849. In Act 1071, it will now be legal for employees with concealed carry licenses to keep their guns in their car while at work.
Rapists who were “convicted of rape by forcible compulsion” will be required to stay on the sex offender registry for life, according to Act 538.
Legislators also passed a law in Act 1097 bringing the speed limit on Arkansas interstates to 75 miles per hour. And, Act 313 now allows direct shipment of wine from small farm wineries to Arkansas homes.
Act 272 is an amendment to a law that now states it is illegal to travel more than three miles on a public street or highway in a recreational off-highway vehicle. The only defense of using the three-mile limitation is if one is traveling to private property from an off-road trail or traveling to or from an off-road trail to the motor vehicle that was used to transport the all-terrain vehicle.
More information on these laws and others can be found at http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/.