Some people who have been convicted of preying on children soon won’t be able to live near schools or day-care centers.
Also, a new law will go into effect in 2008 that restricts teenagers from driving late at night and limits the number of teenage passengers that can be in their vehicle.
Then there’s a law to ensure people have access to medication in emergencies, and one that provides new privacy protections.
All of those measures were signed into law Monday by Gov. Janet Napolitano. Each one passed through the Legislature this year and will alter how many Arizonans go about their daily lives.
The new law on sex offenders is aimed at people who have been convicted of dangerous crimes against children, including rape, sexual contact, kidnapping, molestation, child prostitution and commercial sexual exploitation.
It would bar “level 3” sex offenders from moving to any residence within 1,000 feet of places where children typically gather. Offenders of that level are considered most at risk to break the law again.
Claudia Walters, a member of the Mesa City Council who pushed for the measure, said a statewide law is needed to ensure uniformity. Otherwise, she said, cities will enact their own ordinances and push the offenders into other communities.
Dale Wiebusch, a lobbyist at the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, said Monday he knew of no communities that had enacted such an ordinance.
Current law already requires all sex offenders to register with local law enforcement. And police have to notify nearby neighbors and schools in cases of those considered most at risk of repeating their offense.
But Sen. Jay Tibshraeny, R-Chandler, who sponsored the measure, said that’s not enough.
“We have laws that restrict how close tattoo parlors can be to schools, bars, liquor stores,” he said. “It just made a lot of sense to me to restrict how close the most dangerous of dangerous sex offenders can live to a school.”
Walters agreed. She said state law even prohibits people from having weapons within a certain distance of schools “but you can be a level 3 sex offender and live across the street from where my child plays.”
The measure, which will take effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns for the year, does contain some exceptions that legislators added to curb its scope.
For example, it specifically applies to offenders who were convicted within the past decade. Minors also are exempt.
And anyone whose civil rights have been restored by a court also would not be subject to the restrictions.
Legislation signed into law Monday
• Imposes new restrictions on 16- and 17-year-old drivers during the first six months they have a license. These limits, which take effect July 1, 2008, include limiting teenaged drivers to one other minor in the vehicle unless the passengers are siblings, and barring them from being on the road between midnight and 5 a.m. unless it is to go to work or church or schoolsanctioned activity.
• Bars the most dangerous sex offenders from moving to any residence within 1,000 feet of a school or day-care center.
• Allows pharmacists to give up to a 30-day supply of necessary medications if a natural or human-caused disaster makes obtaining a prescription impossible. The same measure also permits pharmacists relocated here from other states, such as what happened after Hurricane Katrina, to write prescriptions as if they were licensed in Arizona.
• Makes it illegal for merchants who obtain information from a driver’s license to sell that information without that person’s permission. The law is designed to address a practice by some businesses of scanning a license to download information from a license of someone buying tobacco, alcohol or decongestant with pseudoephedrine.