New Year, New Laws

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Despite the fact that the new year sports a number associated with operating outside the law-- this year is '007, after all-- a raft of new state laws are kicking in well before the year loses that new calendar smell.

You can no longer chain your dog to any "stationary object" (tree, dog house, etc.) for more than three hours a day. As for dogs and potentially non-stationary objects (cars, trucks), it's now a misdemeanor "to leave an animal unattended inside a closed vehicle in any condition -- hot or cold weather, without food or water -- that could endanger the animal".

There are also new laws governing humans and cars, as well.

It's now illegal to go for a drive with a live person in the trunk of your car (the legal status of transporting corpses in your trunk remains unchanged). If your car has a "smart key"-- but a not quite as smart owner-- and you lose your keys, you no longer have to go to the dealer for a replacement. Dealer now have to share the smart key codes with registered locksmiths. (What happens when you lose your "smart key" after locking someone in your trunk remains to be seen.)

Other forms of absentmindedness, or negligence, are also the subject of new laws.

Beginning this year, it should be harder for carelessly discarded cigarettes to start fires (ciggies are subject to new fire safety regulations), and for children to drown in pools installed post-January 1st (new requirements for pool safety features).

As for the more deliberately destructive: if it's always been your dream to shoot someone with a BB gun and get away scot-free -- you're too late. Operating an air rifle in a "grossly negligent manner" is now a misdemeanor. Perhaps you, like the Orinda police who investigated the malicious wounding of Orinda City Councilman Steven Glazer, thought shooting someone in the neck with an pellet gun was already illegal in California, but it wasn't. Or at least, it wasn't until Monday. So much for associating '007 with a license to kill.

The Contra Costa Times has a helpful rundown of some of the new laws: Dogs armed with BB guns not allowed in car trunks.

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