plastic straw laws in california

California Limits Plastic Straws

plastic straw laws in california

A few years ago, the citizens of California voted to ban single-use plastic straws. At the time, the change was very controversial with many opponents of the bill upset at the loss of the flimsy plastic items. However, as time moved on, people adapted and got used to the new change. The success of this law, helped convince some Californians that similar laws should be enacted as well.

Recently, the California state legislature passed a new bill that would prohibit full-service, dine-in restaurants from distributing plastic straws unless the patron requests the item. The hope is that by doing this, it will reduce the amount of plastic straws that are used once, and then tossed away. Single-use plastic utensils like this are bad for the environment since they are only used for a short amount of time, but last for several decades in landfills and oceans.

It is important to note that this is not an all-out ban on plastic straws, like many opponents of the bill claim it is. Customers will still be able to get plastic straws in restaurants, they will simply need to ask for straws. The hope is that this will get people used to the idea of not having straws. This could also help encourage new, environmentally friendly straws to be used instead of their plastic counterparts.

The bill based with a 45-20 vote in the State Assembly and now awaits Governor Jerry Brown’s signature for final approval. While this bill may seem like a big deal now, just remember when the plastic bag ban was first enacted. Many people were up in arms over that law, but we got used to the change. The same could happen with this law as well.

can a tenant withold rent

As a Tenant, can you Legally Withhold Rent

can a tenant withold rent

The relationship between tenants and their landlords can be complicated. Often what one person in the relationship thinks of as fair, the other considers the short end of the stick. It’s not unusual for tenants to get so fed up with a landlord, that they decide to force the landlord into taking action by withholding rent. While withholding rent until repairs have been made is allowed, in California, the laws surrounding the decision are complicated.

When can a Tenant Withhold Rent

H&S §17920.3 which is also called California’s State Housing Law, is a law that has been adapted by nearly all of California’s cities as well as the state’s legislators. The law clearly stipulates the minimum requirements the landlords must do with regards to things like:

  • Overall condition of the structures on the property
  • Heating/cooling systems
  • Lighting
  • Ventilation

Additional California state law, Civil Codes § 1941.1 and § 1941.3 stipulates the bare minimum amenities the landlord must provide each of their tenants. Issues addressed by Civil Codes § 1941.1 and § 1941.3 include:

  • Weather protection
  • Plumbing
  • Maintenance for basic safety features including floors, rails, and stairways
  • Sanitary issues (including trash receptacles, rodent control, and debris removal)
  • Locks for doors and windows

If the minimum requirements laid out in H&S §17920.3 and Civil Codes § 1941.1 and § 1941.3 aren’t meant, the tenant should contact the landlord and make them aware of the situation. If the landlord doesn’t respond or make any effort to bring the building up to code, the tenant can choose to withhold rent until something gets done to bring the building up to code. However, before you stop paying your rent, there are few legal technicalities you need to be aware of.

Hoops Tenants Have to Jump Through Before They can Legally Withhold Rent in California

You can’t simply decide that you’re going to withhold your rent until your landlord takes care of a problem that you’ve been complaining about. The California court system has some requirements you have to meet first.

These requirements include:

You have to prove that the repair you require is in clear violation of H&S §17920.3, Civil Codes § 1941.1 or § 1941.3 You can’t withhold rent simply because you’re annoyed about something. When you decide to withhold rent, you have to be able to prove to the court that:

  • You weren’t the cause of the problem.
  • That the problem is clearly a health or safety hazard
  • That you reported the issue to your landlord and also provided them with a reasonable deadline for making the repair, a deadline that they blatantly ignored. The amount of time to provide the landlord to correct the problem often depends on the problem itself. For some repairs, the state of California allows the landlord up to a month to repair the issue, but for other issues, such as a broken door or window lock, the problem needs to be corrected right away.

When you decide that you are going to withhold rent in order to get repairs done on the property, you should be prepared for your landlord to react badly. They may even try to evict you. If this happens, you’ll need to appear in court and provide the judge with evidence that you adhered to all local laws.

Before withholding rent, you need to contact the local court system for your county or city. Different cities have different rules about rent. It’s not unheard of for a city to require the rent that you’re not paying the landlord be directed to a city escrow account.

hild custody laws in california

How Does California View Child Custody?

child custody laws in california

California family court doesn’t care if whether you married the person you share a child (or children) with, the court’s first concern is setting up a formal situation that allows the child to spend time with both parents. Ideally you and your co-parent are still on good enough terms that you’re able to sit down together and work out a system for sharing custody of any children you share.

Once you’ve worked out an agreement, you can take it to the court and they’ll generally honor the setup. At this point the court takes the plan and turns it into a formal visitation and custody order. Once the court has been involved, the order is enforceable.

Issues Covered in Enforceable Custody and Visitation Orders

By the time the formal child custody order is drafted, both parents will not only know what days and times that they’ll have their child/children during the week, were the child spends birthdays, holidays, and school vacations will also be addressed. To help reduce arguments, the court order will also include a clause about which parent is responsible for transporting the child to visitation sites, school, and even extracurricular activities such as piano lessons, school sporting events, and 4-H club meetings.

Depending on how the parents get along, the court may opt to choose a neutral point for drop offs and pick up, which is another issue that will be addressed in the enforceable custody and visitation order.

Both parents will receive a copy of the enforceable custody and visitation order, which should be set up in a safe spot. It’s not unusual for the parents to also give a copy of the order to babysitters, teachers, and any one else who might need to know which parent the children are supposed to go with on a particular day.

What Happens When a Parent Ignores an Enforceable Custody and Visitation Orders

Despite the California Court’s best efforts to keep things as amicable and organized for the estranged parents as possible, sometimes things don’t go as smoothly as they should and one of the parents rebels against the enforceable custody order. What the angry parent doesn’t always understand is that once the order has been filed with the court, it’s legally binding. The parent is not allowed to ignore it just because they don’t like the terms. Violating the custody order is the same as breaking any other law in the state of California. For example, taking you child on a day that isn’t one that the child is supposed to be with you can result in a kidnapping charge.

Parents who violate the custody order can expect a summons to appear before a judge. In some cases, the summons comes in the form of the police showing up at your home or place of work and hauling you to jail. Based on how badly you violated the custody agreement, a judge can deny you all access to your kids and even sentence to a long-term jail sentence.

You can find additional information about custody and visitation orders at the California Courts official website.

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Camping in California

camping laws in california

When you travel the U.S., you get to experience what each state has to offer. You also have to be aware of the laws in each state since not all of the states are the same. While you’re traveling through California, you may feel like camping out instead of stopping at a hotel. This is a great opportunity for you to really experience the nature of the state. However, you can’t just camp wherever you want in California.

Unlike other states, California has rules when it comes to experiencing the great outdoors. States like Arizona give folks the freedom to camp anywhere they can put up a tent. Of course there are a few laws regarding camping in Arizona, but they are a lot more lenient than California’s. California has designated camping areas and these campsites are usually by, or within, national parks.

If you want to get away from people, and a campground doesn’t sound appealing, there is another option for you. In certain areas you are allowed to participate in dispersed camping. Dispersed camping is where there are designated areas for camping among the wilderness.

Other things to know about camping in California are the rules surrounding campfires. You can’t just start up a bonfire on the beach wherever you like. Campfires have to be in designated containers, or areas. They must be attended and watched over at all times. They also must be completely put out when you leave your campsite. This means that every time you leave to go to the store and no one is at the campsite, you must completely put the fire out.

If you’re worried about bringing your furry companion, don’t stress. Dogs are more than welcomed to camp along with you. As long as you pick up after your dog, and your dog is on its leash or under control. Your dog can be considered a nuisance if there is any uncontrollable barking.

Camping is great time to get to know the area you’re in a little bit better. With the smell of a campfire, good company, and a starry night away from the city, camping out is sometimes the best vacation you can have. Camping out can give you an experience that a hotel room can’t. Being able to experience the nature of the world around you makes obeying all of the camping rules worth it.

mitigated dui vs aggivated dui laws

Understanding Mitigated vs. Aggravated DUI Charges in California

mitigated dui vs aggivated dui laws

It’s no secret that California takes drinking and driving seriously. If your blood alcohol content is 0.08%or higher, you’re considered legally intoxicated. If you get pulled over, you will be hauled to the nearest county or city jail and you will have to appear in court.

What many California drivers don’t know, is that each judge in California has been provided with a set of guidelines that they consult whenever they’re hearing a DUI case. The judge can choose how they use the guidelines. Therefore, some people seem to get punished much more severely for a DUI offense than other people.

Factors the sitting judge considers when your DUI case goes before them include:

  • How far over the legal limit your BAC was when you were pulled over
  • The reason you were pulled over
  • What your driving and criminal record is like

Two words frequently heard during DUI cases are mitigating and aggravated. The judge isn’t the only person who will use those particular words. Be prepared for the prosecutor to throw them around whenever they meet with you and discuss the possibility of accepting a plea bargain.

Mitigating vs. Aggravating

During your DUI case, you want to hear the judge use the word mitigating. Whenever this word is bandied around it indicates that the judge is leaning towards a fairly lenient sentencing for you DUI case. It also means that the judge feels there were some outside circumstances that led to you being behind the wheel after you’d been drinking.

One of the most common reasons that the judge will opt for a mitigating charge is because the driver mixed prescription drugs with alcohol without realizing that by doing so, they were sending their BAC level way higher than it would normally be.

Other factors that some judges use while trying to decide if the driver should be found guilty of mitigated DUI or aggravated DUI include:

  • If the defendant has a good employment history
  • If they’re a good student
  • If they’re an active and helpful member of the community
  • If the defendant frequently gets traffic tickets

A charge of aggravated DUI is much more serious. This type of charge brings about harsh penalties, many of which will lower the quality of your life. Things the judge considers before sentencing someone with aggravated DUI include:

  • If you injured or hurt someone while you were under the influence
  • If there was a child in the car with you at the time
  • If you’ve had prior convictions, even if they’re not connected to driving
  • If you were driving well above the speed limit
  • If you were driving recklessly
  • How far above 0,08% your BAC was when you were pulled over and given a breathalyzer test.

Even your conduct while your in court could be the different between a charge of mitigated vs. aggravated DUI.

California Liquor Laws You May Not Know

Liquor Laws: Californians Don’t Realize How Great They’ve Got It Here

California Liquor Laws You May Not Know

If you have been born and raised in California, and you’re 21 years of age, you know that getting ahold of alcohol is fairly simple. You don’t have to worry about what time it is, or what day it is. You can even get it at your local grocery store. These are little things about California Liquor laws that we take for granted.

The rest of the states don’t have the same laws as California, especially when it comes to alcohol sales. States like Oklahoma have stricter sales of liquor. There, you can’t buy liquor from a grocery store or on Sundays. Beer that is sold at grocery stores has a lower percentage of alcohol. Liquor stores can sell beer, but it can’t be sold cold. Lastly, all liquor stores must close by 9 p.m. every day. The only exception to this is Sundays because all liquor stores must be closed that day. Oklahoma isn’t the only state with strict liquor laws like this.

States like Texas, Kentucky, and a majority of the southern states still have dry counties, meaning that in certain counties it is illegal to sell or buy liquor. This may be shocking to some to find out that there are still limits on alcohol, but it shouldn’t be. Most states still allow counties or districts to decide whether or not they want to allow the sale of alcohol. Only a few states, like Arizona, and Hawaii, do not allow local districts or counties to decide on alcohol laws.

California tends be very free from restrictions when it comes to alcohol sales. According to the California’s Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) there are a few laws that we need to be aware of.

Minors, under the age of 21, cannot be bartenders. Being under 21 limits what you can do in a lot of areas, but especially when it comes to drinking. Even through being a bartender doesn’t require you to drink alcohol, you’re classified as too young to recognize drunken behaviors. A bartender is responsible for everyone that they serve alcohol to, including the patrons in the restaurant that you don’t directly serve mixed drinks to. Even though the server is delivering the drinks to restaurant patrons, the bartender is ultimately responsible for them.

Selling alcohol to a minor or a known alcoholic is illegal. Selling alcohol to a minor can land you in serious trouble. That is why it is always wise to check for proper identification. Not only is it illegal to sell to minors, for obvious reasons, it’s also illegal to sell to drunks. If a person is heavily intoxicated and is trying to buy alcohol, no one should sell him any. If anything, vendor should take the intoxicated person’s keys away and/or call the police. The same goes for alcoholics in California.

The reason why California has so many laws in regards to alcohol is to keep the general populace safe. Without laws in place, public intoxication, drunk driving accidents, and many other unfavorable things would increase in popularity. With leniency comes responsibility. So drink responsibly and be glad you can find your favorite six pack of beer on a Sunday night.

We Care about Animals in California

We Care about Animals in California, and This New Law Proves It

We Care about Animals in California

We love cute, furry creatures. No one can resist the soft innocent, helpless puppies, bunnies, or kittens. Animals appeal to us because of how we can connect with them. It’s that connection that we feel with animals that drives us to try to protect them. Plus, as Americans it’s instilled in us to also fight for the underdogs.

Unfortunately, we have a problem with some animals, specifically with cats and dogs. There’s a problem with too many animals stuck in the shelter. Overcrowding happens within the shelters, which leaves them with no choice but to humanely euthanize the animals. This problem has many animal lovers up in arms and working to help fix the problem. Websites like No Kill Now call for action by asking people to shop for their family pets at the kill shelters in the hopes of saving as many pets as possible.

Animals at the shelter are usually picked up by animal control, or have been surrendered by their previous owners. The animals in the local shelters don’t always get photographed and posted on the shelter’s website either. Therefore, it is encouraged to go to the shelter in person. Not all shelter animals get their picture taken, and this limits their chances of being seen.

Here is California, we care a lot about the world around us, including the cute animals that inhabit it. It’s really no surprise that this past year, a new law was signed to soon go into effect in order to help protect animals. The law is meant to help with the overcrowding of at animal shelters and will go into effect January 2019.

The law will prohibit pet stores from selling animals that are not from the shelter. This law will promote adopting shelter pets and means that only shelter animals will be up for adoption in California. Breeders in California will not be able to sell to pet stores. Pet store owners that fail to comply will face criminal charges.

We care about animals, and more specifically we care about our pets. We care about our current pets and our future pets. Hopefully this law will help with the overcrowding, but more importantly, this law will help pets find their forever homes.

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Scary Legends of California: Alcatraz

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Probably one of the more famous haunted places in all of California is Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay. The island has served as a military fortification, military prison, and as a federal prison. The place has been associated with suffering and death for a long time, and that association has left an imprint on the minds of those who visit the island.

Long before the island was built upon, Native Americans feared the island. They believed that evil spirits resided there, and that the island itself held a portal to another realm. The local tribes would send people there as punishment for breaking tribal laws.

Around 1850, Alcatraz Island was acquired by the US government, and turned into a military fort. Soon enough, starting in the 1860s, the fort slowly became more of a military prison. It housed hundreds of inmates from both the Civil War, and the Mexican-American War. Construction on the concrete cellblock, which is the main feature on the island, started in 1909 and was completed 3 years later. In 1934, Alcatraz became a federal prison. It remained in operation for 29 years. The island is now a Nation Historic Landmark, and is quite the tourist destination.

Park rangers who live on the island have heard and seen things that cannot be explained. One of the worst places is the main cell block, and the dungeon beneath it. They say the air within this building is often cold, and filled with the wails and screams of those who suffered on the island. Stories abound of ghosts of dead inmates walking the halls, or standing within their cells, still imprisoned to this day.

Worst of all, are the stories of a creature known only as The Thing. It is a dark, ghostly figure with glowing red eyes. The apparition haunts the cells of Alcatraz, and is rumored to have killed some of the inmates. One particular story tells of an inmate who was placed into solitary and began screaming that a creature with glowing red eyes was in his cell and attacking him. The man screamed late into the night, until the screaming eventually stopped. The next morning, the guards found him dead in his cell with hand prints around his throat. He had been strangled.


Many visitors to Alcatraz say that they have heard and seen the ghosts roaming the grounds of the island. Even those who do not believe in ghosts, have had their minds changed after a visit to the island that these restless spirits call home.


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Next Beach Trip, You Can Bring the Alcohol!

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The list of items to pack for a beach trip is pretty straight forward. You need blankets and towels, sun screen, hats, sunglasses, some water and snacks, and some toys like Frisbees and footballs. One of the main things that stays off of most people’s beach lists is booze since most beaches ban alcohol. Well luckily, if you plan a trip to one of these following beaches, you can bring your alcohol with you because these are alcohol-friendly beaches!

    Kehoe Beach
    Located in Point Reyes, Kehoe Beach is a tranquil beach that can be found after a half mile walk along sand dune and marshes at the northern end of Great Beach. It is an alcohol-friendly beach, but no kegs are allowed. It is best to leave the beach by 10:30 PM latest, since the beach closes at 11 PM and you need to walk back to your car.

    Carmel Beach
    South of San Francisco, but north of Monterey, Carmel Beach offers peace, relaxation, and fun to its visitors. Just like Kehoe Beach, kegs are not allowed, but other alcoholic beverages are. This beach is a plus for dog owners, since it is also a dog-friendly beach, meaning you can let your dog off its leash!

    Malibu Paradise Cove
    Nestled along the shores of Malibu, Malibu Paradise Cove lets you sip on your alcoholic beverage while laying back on the sand or even the beach chairs. The parking lot is not the cheapest, but if you dine at the restaurant there, they will validate. You can also park further up and take a short walk down to the beach. The beach is open from 8 AM to sunset and it is a bit cozy, so go early to claim your spot!

    Descanso Beach Club
    Getting to Descanso Beach Club will take a little extra planning since it sits on Catalina Island. You will need to schedule a boat or helicopter ride over. This beach club offers amenities that really allow you to relax and sip on your cocktail.


Remember that if you bring alcohol to these beaches, and you are driving to the beach, then you need to properly transport the alcohol in your car. If it is a bottle that has been opened already, then the alcohol must be in the trunk. If the alcohol has never been opened, then it can be in the passenger seating areas. That is for getting to the beach.


Now getting home from the beach is another story, since now, you will have alcohol in your system. If you stop drinking early enough, you can be sober enough to drive home safely. If not, you will need to designate someone who is, or end up calling an Uber or Lyft. In addition to your booze, remember to drink plenty of water too to stay hydrated, and eat some food to help soak up some of that alcohol.

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Jaywalking Is a Crime

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While we do it every day without a second thought, driving can actually be quite dangerous. One small surprise is all it takes to cause an accident with disastrous results. That is why there are so many laws that relate to driving to try to keep drivers and pedestrians safe.

This is the main reason for California having laws against jaywalking. Here in California, Jaywalking is defined as a pedestrian crossing a street or roadway in a reckless manner without using a crosswalk or crossing signal.

Crossing a street in undesignated areas is an easy way to cause an accident. Crosswalks are typically located at intersections so that the flow of traffic can be altered to allow for the safe crossing of pedestrians. When a pedestrian jaywalks, he or she is often doing so in an area where cars are moving at high rates of speed.

In areas where there are no crosswalks, drivers are not expecting to encounter pedestrians. Chances are, they will not have enough time to react when they see a jaywalker. This could lead to the pedestrian being struck, and either injured or killed. This is why it is safer to cross at designated crosswalks, and only the signal allows it. No one wants to step in front of moving traffic.

Contrary to popular belief, there are consequences for getting caught jaywalking. California laws states that jaywalking is an infraction, and accused individuals could face a fine up to $191. On top of this, local authorities are allowed add harsher fines and consequences if they desire.


Ultimately, the costs of jaywalking are far too high. A person runs the risk of getting in trouble with local authorities, or causing an accident.