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35 New Laws Took Effect On December 1st

Lawmen have nearly three dozen new ways to keep crime off the streets as 35 new laws take effect in our state.

These new laws are mostly criminal laws. They range from harsher penalties for repeat DWI offenders to giving gun owners more rights to protect their homes, cars and businesses.

Laura's Law imposes tougher penalties for repeat drunk drivers.

According to the new state law, depending on aggravating factors, a repeat offender could get fined up to $10,000, up from the maximum of $4,000, plus up to 36 months in prison, instead of the maximum of 24 months.

The law was named for Laura Fortenberry. Until she was killed in a car accident in 2010 by a drunk driver who had three previous DWI charges, the 17-year from Gaston County sang in the chorus, played powder puff football and planned to be an FBI agent someday

The new law will also allow for post release monitoring for alcohol consumption.

Another law taking effect Thursday is Ethan's Law. It says if an unborn child dies as a result of the assault on the mother, the suspect can be charged with murder of that unborn baby.

It's a law the Onslow County District Attorney and investigators say would have shaken up the Cesar Laurean murder trial. Maria Lauterbach was eight months pregnant when she was killed.

Investigators say this law will make any case like Laurean's more complete once it's closed.

Ethan's Law is named for the unborn child of Jenna Nielsen, a woman who was stabbed to death in 2007 while she was restocking newspapers outside a Raleigh convenience store.

Governor Bev Perdue signed the bill into law back in April.

The catchy named "Run and You're Done" law means people who speed away from police could lose their car. The law says if a person is charged with "felony speed to elude arrest" their car will be seized and impounded by the sheriff's office. Upon conviction, the car will be sold at auction.

"We hope that it may have the effect to keeping people from wanting to run from the police or highway patrol and engage in a chase," says First Sergent Kevin Rock with the Highway Patrol.

The money earned at the auction of the seized cars will go to county school boards.

One new law comes in response to the Zahra Baker case. It makes it illegal to dismember a body to hide a crime or evidence of an unnatural death.

Parts of Zahra's remains where found in multiple sites around Hickory shortly after her reported disappearance. The 10-year old's step mother, Elisa Baker, pleaded guilty in September to second degree murder. She was sentenced to up to 18 years in prison.


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