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Texting while driving and experimental meds: New laws taking effect Aug. 1

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License Plate Ready System
Maplewood police officer Steven Hiebert uses the License Plate Ready System, which consists of a camera that photographs license plates and then compares them with those in a database of stolen vehicles, in March 2011.
AP Photo | Star Tribune, Jim Gehrz

Among the laws going into effect on Aug. 1 are new limits on how Minnesota law enforcement agencies can harvest and store data collected by automatic license plate readers. 

The new law defines license plate data collected by law enforcement agencies as private, although much of the information about which agencies collect the data and the equipment they use will be available to the public.

It also limits to 60 days the amount of time that license plate data unrelated to an active criminal investigation can be stored by an agency. 

People charged with crimes will be able to request that the data be preserved if it could exonerate them. Those enrolled in a program that protects the locations of victims of stalking, sexual assault and domestic abuse will also be able to ask that license plate data connected to them be destroyed at any time.

In order to monitor and track a person who's the subject of a criminal investigation, law enforcement agencies must now first obtain a judge's approval, except in emergency cases like kidnapping. 

Agencies that use the automatic license plate readers must also conduct an audit every two years to gauge compliance with the law. The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will also collect and publish a list of agencies using the license plate readers. Public arrest records must note when the license plate readers were used in an arrest.

Other laws going into effect on Aug. 1

• The fine for texting while driving will increase to $275 for the second citation and each subsequent citation. 

• Terminally ill patients who have tried all available conventional treatments will now be able to receive prescriptions for experimental treatments. The experimental treatment must have already passed the first phase of a clinical trial, but not yet been approved for general use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

• It will now be a misdemeanor to put human bodily fluids into food or drink that's going to be consumed. It will be a gross misdemeanor if someone actually consumes the product without knowing that it's been altered. The law stems from an incident where a Blaine man admitted to ejaculating into his coworker's coffee. 

• Women whose fetuses are diagnosed with a chromosomal disorder like Patau, Edwards or Down syndromes will now receive more information about the disorders. The new law also requires medical staff to direct patients to non-profit support groups and for the state Department of Health to maintain a website with information about the conditions in multiple languages. 

• A patient at the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter who attacks or throws bodily fluids at a care worker could now face felony charges. A staff member was recently attacked and severely injured by a patient.  

• The state's minimum wage for large employers rises to $9 an hour on Aug. 1, which the governor's office says will affect 300,000 workers in the state. This is the second of three yearly minimum wage increases, which will increase pay to $9.50 an hour by 2016 and tie the state's minimum wage to inflation. 

• A working group will be convened to study whether Minnesota should create a "silver alert" system to help find missing persons with dementia, brain injuries or other mental disabilities. 

• Saturday is the deadline for all law enforcement agencies in the state to provide information about their backlog of untested rape kits to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

• Anyone who agrees to hire a person for prostitution who is reasonably believed to be under the age of 18 will now face a felony and five years in prison.

• Purchasing a firearm for anyone ineligible to buy or own one will now be a gross misdemeanor. 

• Credit unions and banks will now be able to hold raffles to encourage their customers to save money. 

• On Aug. 4, a new state law allows certified motorcyclists who pass a training course and driving record review to act as motorcycle "road guards" during large motorcycle group rides.

• Hire a Veteran Month will move from May to July and Military Spouses and Family Day will be celebrated the Sunday before Memorial Day.