By Jan Rahn
On Jan 1, new laws passed by the Nebraska Legislature took effect, including an increase in park entry fees, interlock devices for drunk drivers, and authorization to drive low-speed four-wheeled motor vehicles.
• Park entry fees for 2012 increased 25 percent. The annual fee for Nebraska parks is now $25, up from the previous fee of $20. Daily permits went up one dollar and now cost $5.
Nebraskans have been purchasing the new park permits since their availability toward the end of last year to pass along as Christmas gifts.
According to Roger Kuhn, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s assistant director, park permit fees in Nebraska are among the cheapest in the nation and thus far has not received any complaints about the increased fee.
There are over 80 state parks in Nebraska, with the entry fees collected providing over 70 percent of the funding required to run the parks and recreation areas.
The increased entry fees are expected to bring in an additional $1.2 million a year.
Those who purchase entry stickers will notice that the placement of the sticker on their vehicle has changed from previous years.
It was necessary to attach last year’s permit to the lower right side of a vehicle’s windshield—the new law requires that the stickers be placed on the lower left corner of the windshield.
The placement of the new park permits will make it easier for park employees to see as vehicles enter the park gates. The vehicle’s driver will also find it easier to attach them on the left side of the windshield.
• DUI Law: Part of the new DUI law (LB 667) is that those caught driving under the influence can either have their license revoked by the Department of Motor Vehicles or request the installation of an ignition interlock device in their vehicles.
The device installed on the dashboard requires a driver to blow into a sensor to start a vehicle. If the sensor detects a blood alcohol concentration above 0.03 the vehicle will not start, reducing repeat drunken driving offenses according to research.
• Low-speed vehicles: A low-speed vehicle may be operated on any highway on which the speed limit is not more than 35 mph. A low-speed vehicle may cross a highway on which the speed limit is more than 35 mph.
Low-speed vehicle means a four-wheeled motor vehicle whose speed attainable in one mile is more than 20 miles per hour and not more than 25 miles per hour on a paved, level surface; and whose gross vehicle weight rating is less than 3,000 pounds.