Legislative changes taking effect in Florida starting Oct. 1

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Nearly 20 new laws went into effect last summer after being approved by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

In total, 150 bills took effect July 1. Now 27 new laws are taking effect on Oct. 1, including laws about hazing and veteran access to court-appointed programs.

Among the new and updates laws taking effect Tuesday, here are some highlights:

HAZING
(SB 1080)
Created after Andrew Coffey died in a hazing event at Florida State University fraternity pledge, this law makes a third-degree felony out of hazing that results in a permanent injury. The bill outlines immunity to witnesses who call 911 or report the need for medical assistance during hazing incidents.
TEXTING WHILE DRIVING
(HB 107)
This measure took effect July 1, but starting Oct. 1 drivers will be required to be hands-free in school and work zones. Law-enforcement officers will give out verbal or written warnings until the end of the year for motorists who don’t put down cell phones in those areas. Law enforcement will begin being issued Jan. 1 as a moving violation that puts three points on the driver’s license. 
CHILD-LIKE SEX DOLLS
(SB 160)
Makes it a first-degree misdemeanor to sell, give away or show child-like sex dolls. Subsequent violations will be a third-degree felony.
POLICE DOGS AND HORSES
(SB 96)
Makes it a second-degree felony, up from a third-degree felony, for people who kill or cause great bodily injury to police, fire or search-and-rescue dogs or police horses. The amount of potential prison time increases from five years to 15 years. This bill stems from the deaths of Fang, a member of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office canine unit that was shot and killed, and a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office police dog named Cigo that was killed in the line of duty.
VETERANS’ COURTS
(SB 910)
This law expands eligibility of court-ordered treatment options. Providing that veterans who were discharged or released under any condition, individuals who are current or former United States Department of Defense contractors, and current or former military members of a foreign allied country are eligible in a certain Military Veterans and Service members Court Programs.

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