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New Laws Take Effect

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By Peter Biello

Wilmington, NC – Almost twenty new laws went into effect statewide December 1st. WHQR takes a look at three of the unusual ones.

Alcohol Vaporization Devices Banned

The North Carolina General Assembly has outlawed Alcohol Vaporization Devices. AVDs mix ethyl alcohol with oxygen. Users inhale the mixture to become intoxicated.

Wilmington Attorney Tom Goohlsby says the new law seeks to stop the rising popularity of ethyl alcohol as a recreational intoxicant.

"That is something that would be used not for enjoying a beverage, like a well-made Scotch whiskey or a nice aged wine, simply for people to abuse themselves and abuse alcohol."

The law says inhalers, nebulizers, and other devices dispensing medication prescribed by doctors are not considered AVDs. North Carolina joins at least a dozen states that have already banned the devices. Several other states are considering similar legislation.

Mortgage Fraud Now A Felony

The new Residential Mortgage Fraud Act states that any mortgage broker who makes false statements or omits crucial information when selling a mortgage is committing a Class H felony. A Class H felony carries a ten-year prison sentence and a fine.

Goohlsby says before criminalizing mortgage fraud, mortgage-buyers had little hope of recovering their losses.

"But if you get them on a crime, and all of a sudden they're looking at going to jail and being ordered to pay restitution, that's your best bet at getting your money back."

Goohlsby says the new Mortgage Fraud Act is not retroactive.

False Threats Against Schools A Felony

The new law states that making false threats concerning mass violence on educational property is a felony. Before this law making false threats was a misdemeanor, but now offenders will face longer terms in prison.

"So if a sixteen year gets on the phone, thinks it'll be funny to get him and his friends out of school for the day, calls in a bomb threat, they trace it back, which they can do now, and all of a sudden, he'll find himself charged with a class H felony," says Goohlsby.

The new law making false threats a felony also applies to off-campus school-sponsored events.

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