Arizona, like many other states, has a number of new laws that became effective on January 1, 2019. Some involve criminal law, but several focus on money – money, that is, that the state may collect if you find yourself in court. Here’s a rundown on some of the new legislation:
- Fees for Traffic Tickets. The cost of a traffic violation will have an added fee of $4, which is earmarked in part for training equipment for the Arizona Department of Public Safety. The money will also fund an advertising campaign, which, according to the Arizona House of Representatives report, will attempt to advise motorists “how to act during a traffic stop.”
- Fees for Victims’ Rights. Every fine imposed as the result of a criminal offense, a traffic violation or a violation of the Arizona fish and game regulations will have a $9 fee tacked on. The money will be used to fund counseling, emergency housing and victim restitution.
- Vehicle Registration Fee. Although not on the criminal law front, there will also be a $32 fee levied on new-vehicle registrations. The amount of the fee was originally supposed to be $14, but it more than doubled so that it would help fund highway patrol efforts.
- Abortion Questions. From the legislature that purportedly wants to limit government interference in our private lives, comes a new requirement that forces doctors to ask patients seeking an abortion whether the decision is elective or due to sexual assault, health or other considerations. The answers are required to be reported to the Department of Health Services.
Other new laws, although not in the criminal or traffic area, include one to benefit motorists who are permanently disabled. They will no longer have to renew their handicapped placards each year. Finally, if you’ve ever been hospitalized and received a hefty bill from a doctor you’ve never heard of before who is not in your insurance company’s network (but who performed some medical work on your case), the new law sets up an arbitration procedure to deal with what the legislation calls “surprise out-of-network [medical] bills.”
Criminal Justice Reform Takes a Back Seat
While the laws we’ve mentioned deal largely with government fund-raising and a few other issues, there has been little or no legislation addressing criminal justice reform. Arizona still has some of the most restrictive sentencing laws in the country, and its incarceration rate is the fourth highest in the country.
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