New laws take effect in Mo. Friday

Jefferson City, MO – Several new laws affecting motorists in Missouri take effect tomorrow.

The one garnering the most attention is the ban on texting-while-driving for drivers age 21 and under.

Lt. John Hotz with the Missouri State Highway Patrol says the new law is aimed at the young, inexperienced driver.

"We know that they are overrepresented in the number of crashes that they are involved in, as it is...and if we can do something to take away just one more source of distraction from those young drivers, then we can hopefully reduce the number of crashes they're involved in," Hotz said.

Drivers 21 and under caught texting while driving can be fined up to $200 and have two points added to their driving record.

There are exemptions, though, for young drivers who use text messaging to alert authorities to crimes or accidents. And Hotz adds that exemptions also apply if the young person doing the texting is a law officer, firefighter or emergency worker on duty.

Another new law taking effect Friday will automatically consider drivers under age 21 to have given consent to blood alcohol tests if they're found in possession of alcohol, have attempted to buy alcohol, or are visibly intoxicated.

"Alcohol is the most dangerous drug for teenagers, and this is a step to help keep it out of their hands," Hotz said.

Also, adults of any age convicted of two intoxication-related traffic offenses within five years will be banned from driving for five years. And motorcycle owners will be allowed to equip their headlamps with modulators to make them more visible at night.

Another new law allows cities and towns to legalize street use of golf carts and motorized wheelchairs, though they're still banned on state and federal highways.