New Year, New Laws

Pennsylvania and New Jersey lawmakers have been busy. The following are examples of some new laws going into effect in 2019:

Stiffer penalties exist for repeat drunk drivers. However, some argue that these new penalties are still not tough enough. Third time drunk driving offenders, with blood alcohol levels of .16 or greater, now face felony charges. The new law also increases penalties for the crime of “Homicide by Vehicle while DUI” from the prior minimum sentence of three years in prison, to anywhere from five-to seven-year minimums, depending on the number of prior DUI convictions.

Better policing of those who disregard school bus safety laws are going into effect. Moreover, funding has been allocated to equip school buses with cameras to catch drivers who decide to make illegal or dangerous passes of a school bus.

Smoking on New Jersey beaches is now illegal. Effective January 16th, individuals may no longer smoke on NJ public beaches or in state parks. However, individual towns and cities may “opt out,” and designate a small area to accommodate smokers. Vaping is not permitted.

On a lighter note, here’s one that expectant parents will love. Beginning in 2019, babies born or adopted into the state of Pennsylvania will automatically have a college savings account started for them, with a $100 deposit included. This new program, known as the Keystone Scholars program, is intended to provide seed money to encourage families to save for their children’s post-secondary education.  According to the experts, children who have even a small amount of savings for college are seven times more likely to attend and graduate from college than those who have no savings.

A New Jersey law could have a direct impact on concert goers. Previously, artists, venues and others with access to tickets prior to public sale could hold back no more than 5% of tickets. These groups will no longer be limited to “holding back” only 5% of tickets to be sold, which could make it more difficult for consumers to purchase tickets. Governor Murphy argued, unsuccessfully, that this law places NJ at a disadvantage when trying to attract acts.

These are just a few of the many new laws going into effect. For a complete listing of new laws in your state, please visit your state’s official website.

Scott Bonebrake is a general practitioner in Media, PA, and has been a licensed attorney in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey for over 24 years. If you or someone you know has any legal questions, feel free to contact Scott at 610-892-7700, or email Scott at