New Laws Starting October 1st - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

New Laws Starting October 1st

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Several new public safety laws are due to take effect on October 1st. They are designed to close loopholes, stiffen penalties, and improve law enforcement infrastructure in the state.

An impairment level has been established for those who drive under the influence of marijuana illegally. A limit of 5 nanograms per milliliter of THC, the active component of marijuana, is established for those who use marijuana illegally and then drive. Previously, the same limit was in place only for medical marijuana cardholders.

Synthetic drugs that mimic illegal drugs, but weren't previously unlawful under Montana law, have been banned. These drugs include those labeled as "bath salts" and "Spice". Their manufacture, distribution, sale, and possession are now illegal.

District judges are now allowed to designate tier levels to sex offenders who lack one. Most sex offenders in Montana lack a tier level because they predate the system, didn't receive one at sentencing, or come from a state with a different tier system. An offender's tier level determines how often they must report to authorities.

Sex offenders who move to Montana must now provide a DNA sample to the state crime lab. Montana was previously one of four states without such a requirement. A sex offender would be required to register, but was not required to provide DNA.

Child abuse must now be reported to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services and to law enforcement in all cases. This allows information to be passed quickly between social services and police in cases of suspicious child deaths, suspected sexual assaults, and other circumstances.

The penalty for infant assault increased to a maximum of 20 years when the child is 36 months or younger. If the assault caused serious bodily injury, the penalty increases to 40 years in prison.

Finally, stiffer consumer protection penalties have been imposed for scammers and other individuals who target the elderly or mentally disabled.