Sheriff Kevin Sproul on New Laws in Georgia

Sheriff Kevin Sproul

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

Each year, new laws are passed in Georgia. Most of these new laws, or changes to existing laws, take effect on July 1st. Although all new legislation can be searched at, as Sheriff, it is my responsibility to keep up with these changes and to share some of the more pertinent changes with you.

One issue that has finally been resolved – while we all know that a motor vehicle with four wheels is an automobile and one with two wheels is a motorcycle, what about a motor vehicle with three wheels? And what type of license is required for such a vehicle? The new rule is that if the three-wheeled vehicle has a steering wheel, it is considered an automobile and the driver must have a Class C driver’s license. If it has handlebars, it is a motorcycle and the driver must have a Class M license.

Previously in Georgia, those who had power of attorney could do virtually anything with the assets of the person for whom they had authority to act. This, in many cases, led to abuse and theft. Now, individuals who grant power of attorney have greater protection as Georgia now allows for criminal prosecution for theft under power of attorney.

In the continuing war on drugs, the fastest growing concern is the abuse of prescription pain medication. Up to now, if a doctor prescribed an opioid, the pharmacist was required to check a national database prior to filling the prescription to prevent abuse. Now, additionally, the doctor is required to check the database prior to prescribing the drug. Doctors are also required to provide information on the addictive risks for such drugs, as well as details on how to properly dispose of any unused opioids.

Victims of domestic violence may often feel that the system works against them. One example is that those who requested a name change in order to avoid being found by their abuser learned that the law required that the name change be published in the local newspaper. Also, the court documents related to the name change were considered public records, so anyone could check them. Now, the court can waive the publication requirement and seal the court records.

Regarding gun laws, the Campus Carry bill passed allowing individuals to carry firearms on campus. There are many restrictions however, such as; the person must have a carry permit, the firearm must be concealed, they cannot carry at any sporting event, in student housing, in any building where there are children (daycare) or high-school students (dual enrollment), or in any administrative area used for disciplinary proceedings. These changes only affect public institutions, as private institutions may still ban firearms on their campuses.

The laws regarding sex crimes and human trafficking have been strengthened. Most significantly, if a person solicits an individual for the purpose of sexual servitude, they may now be charged with “Human Trafficking” rather than just “solicitation”. This is a much more serious offense.

Although there were many other changes, these are the ones I found most interesting and useful to share. If you have any questions about these, or any other laws (changed or unchanged), please feel free to contact my office at 229-430-6508.