New laws for 2015 crack down on drunk driving, smoking, and untested rape kits

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - In Louisiana about two dozen new laws go into effect on January 1, 2015.

Among them, 16-year-olds will now be allowed to register to vote when they get their driver's license although they won't actually be allowed to exercise their right until they turn 18.

Another change affects smokers. The new law bans smoking within 25 feet of a public entrance and wheelchair ramps at all state buildings.

Also set to begin in 2015 is an update to the Louisiana DWI laws that include more time behind bars for offenders. Under the new law, first-time offenders may face a minimum of ten days in jail, with 32 hours of community service, and a second offense can mean 30 days in jail.

A new mandate that may make a difference to hundreds of rape victims and help clear a backlog is due January 1, 2015. Law enforcement agencies must tally the number of untested rape kits on shelves. The law requires the numbers be reported to the Louisiana State Police crime lab.

In 21 states not including Louisiana, 2015 means more money for roughly 2.4-million minimum wage employees. In some states, such as Massachusetts and Minnesota, it's a fairly big pay bump of one dollar per hour. In Florida, though, minimum wage workers will only see an increase of 12-cents an hour.

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