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New 2011 California laws set to begin

December 24, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
A crackdown on paparazzi and a break for drivers who use the carpool lane are some of the new laws that will impact Californians next year.Changes are in store for 2011.

California starts the year by downgrading possession of an ounce or less of marijuana from a misdemeanor to an infraction. Though the fine remains $100, there's no jail time or notation on your criminal record.

"It also unclogs our overburdened court system, which so often gets dragged down because they have these simple possession for marijuana cases, and it's difficult to get into a courtroom," said state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), senate budget chairman.

Also in a cost-cutting move, the state will be releasing severely sick or dying inmates through medical parole. That's causing public safety concerns among Republicans, who call the guidelines dangerous.

"It's going to allow for the release of sex offenders and murderers just because they got a note from their doctor, not because the judge that sentenced them has said they deserve to be let out early," said Assembly Republicans spokesman Seth Unger.

New road laws help ring in the new year.

The paparazzi, known to surround or block celebrities while driving, just to take their picture, may be liable for damages under "false imprisonment."

You also might see a Blue Alert on those highway signs telling you an officer is down and the suspect is still on the loose. It's similar to an Amber Alert for a missing child.

And if you have one of those yellow hybrid stickers, you'll still be able to use the carpool lane as a solo driver six more months.

"When you're running late for work and you have a meeting, they're wonderful to be in that carpool lane," said Kathy Lynch, who has a carpool sticker.

California is also helping you be healthier.

All those baked goods from breads to pastries that are made locally can no longer have artery-clogging trans fats.

"I'm a fan of the healthier-tasting foods, so I think it's a good thing, and I think it'll help other people who maybe aren't to kind of jump on board," said healthy eater Anna Shah.

Lastly, lawmakers went after some Internet users. It'll be a misdemeanor to impersonate someone on the Internet if the intention is to deceive or injure another person.