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Ethen's Law, Zahra's Law And Others Begin December 1 In North Carolina

11:43 AM, Nov 30, 2011   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- Almost three dozen new state laws will take effect on Thursday, as the month of December begins.

Some are named for victims of recent crimes. Other have catchy titles. You can find a list of all of them here.

Among the new statutes is Ethen's Law. It's North Carolina's version of a fetal homicide law and criminalizes injuring or killing an unborn child in a variety of instances.

The law is named for Ethen Nielsen. His mother, Jenna, was delivering newspapers in Raleigh in 2007 and was eight months pregnant with Ethen when someone stabbed her to death. Her family -- and local lawmaker Speaker Pro Tempore Dale Folwell (R-Forsyth) -- pushed to make the law happen.

In 2008, Nielsen's father, Kevin Blaine, voiced his support for the law in an interview. "To me, this is a common sense issue," Blaine said. "My daughter was pregnant, she was murdered, my grandson died with her."

Zahra's Law also goes into effect Thursday. It makes disturbing or dismembering human remains a Class I felony. The law is named for Zahra Baker, a 10-year-old girl whose remains were found in multiple sites in Catawba and Caldwell counties in 2010.

Police officers and emergency personnel will have some extra protection under a new law. Session Law 2011-356 makes it a Class I felony to assault a law enforcement officer, parole officer, probation officer or detention center worker while they are performing official duties.

The law also increases the penalties for assaulting emergency workers. Causing injury to a firefighter, first responder, EMT or medical staff in an emergency department will become a felony. It used to be a misdemeanor.

The Motorcycle Safety Act creates penalties for putting motorcyclists in dangerous situations. Starting Thursday, if you run a motorcyclist off the road or force them to change lanes unsafely, you can be cited and face a fine of at least $200. If you cause a crash that injures a motorcyclist, you can be cited and face a fine of at least $500.

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