State News

NC gets new powers to punish sex offenders

Posted August 16, 2008 3:53 p.m. EDT
Updated August 16, 2008 4:35 p.m. EDT

— North Carolina authorities will soon have new powers to punish sex offenders, and bartenders will be looking at underage customers' ID cards in a new way.

Gov. Mike Easley on Saturday announced that he signed five bills into law, including those designed to help state officials protect children from sex offenders and to change the format of driver's licenses for people under age 21.

One law makes it a felony for a registered sex offender to use a social networking Web site accessible to minors, starting Dec. 1. It also increases the penalties for some sex crimes involving children.

The other law requires registered sex offenders to give law inforcement their e-mail addresses and online user IDs, starting May 1. That information can be provided to social networking Web sites so they can screen users.

Officials with those sites, including MySpace, asked for the laws so they could kick off offenders.

Beginning Oct. 1, state IDs for people under the legal drinking age will be printed vertically instead of the traditional horizontal layout.

Young adults who hold horizontal cards won't need to get a new one until their current one expires.

Lawmakers passed the bill this summer as a way to help bartenders and retailers easily identify which customers were old enough to buy alcohol.

A state survey found that some young adults were able to buy alcohol even after presenting identification which showed they were not 21 years old.