The stroke of midnight on Dec. 31 opened the door to 2007 and with it, 99 new laws for Illinois residents to abide by.

Among those of note, residential property owners are now required to install carbon monoxide detectors within 15 feet of every bedroom. Convicted felons will not be allowed to own vicious dogs for a decade after their release from prison, and wine enthusiasts won’t have to worry about wasting a bottle of their favorite vintage.

Illinois’ new carbon monoxide detector law is aimed at new construction but applies to existing homes and apartment buildings as well. The statute requires the property owner to provide at least one detector for every bedroom, however, maintenance responsibilities rest with the tenant.

Failing to comply with the law could result in misdemeanor charges. Tampering with the device is a more serious offense and may lead to felony charges, according to the statute.

Village officials said the intent of lawmakers is certainly noble, but the task of enforcing such a far reaching mandate could prove difficult.

“I don’t know how we’re going to do that,” Mayor Anthony Calderone said. “Everybody’s got limited resources.”

Both Calderone and Village Administrator Mike Sturino said the requirement of a carbon monoxide detector will surely be added to the checklist used by building inspectors when signing off on an occupancy permit. But in the case of existing homes, the village doesn’t have the ability to conduct random inspections for carbon monoxide detectors. However, if a village official is called to the property for some other reason, Sturino said it would be appropriate for the municipality to check for detectors then.

“We always would encourage every resident to employ every reasonable means to protect their homes and their family,” Sturino said.

According to the National Safety Council, New York, Minnesota, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Connecticut are among other states enacting a similar law this year. More than 500 people are killed by carbon monoxide poisoning each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

New laws governing felons could keep local police officers busy this year, though Police Chief Jim Ryan said much of the responsibility lies with the county sheriff’s office.

Felons convicted of a “forcible felony,” cruelty to animals, certain drug charges and several other criminal acts will not be allowed to own vicious dogs for at least 10 years following their release from prison. The law also stipulates that regardless of whether the dog is classified as “vicious,” felons cannot own a puppy older than 12 weeks unless the dog is spayed or neutered. Ryan said he was previously unaware of the new law and commented that it was a curious new direction in the criminal code.

Anyone found to be in violation of the law will be charged with a misdemeanor.

Also new to the state’s criminal code is the monitoring of sex offenders with electronic bracelets. These changes are contingent upon state funding, but those offenders deemed likely to strike again will be monitored by the Department of Corrections, according to the statute.

Relevant information will be shared with local law enforcement, and in most cases the municipal officers will be called on if someone strays beyond their designated boundaries.

Ryan said his department’s relationship with the county offices is cooperative and this law is unlikely to create an unreasonable burden for his officers.

“We work closely with them,” Ryan said. “If they’re looking for somebody we’re going to help them out.”

According to the Illinois Sex Offender Web site, there are 13 registered sex offenders in Forest Park. Of those, four are listed as “sexual predators” and one has failed to comply with registration laws.

A new law concerning opened bottles of wine should have restaurant goers excited, and Ryan said, is not likely to increase the number of drunk driving violations in the village.

Diners who purchase a bottle of wine with their meal are now allowed to take home any unused portion of the wine as long as the bottle is resealed and placed in a “transparent one-time use tamper-proof bag.” For a community with some 50 restaurants and bars, Ryan said the law is a good idea.

“Somebody that pays for a bottle of wine and doesn’t finish it is probably not out drinking and driving,” Ryan said.

New laws for 2007

  • Jane Addams Day will be celebrated each year on Dec. 10. Addams was a founding member of the Settlement House Movement and the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • The African-American HIV/AIDS Response Fund will issue grants to help prevent the spread of HIV among African-Americans. With available funds, at least 17 social service facilities will be established in Illinois.
  • State agencies that use automated answering services must provide callers with the option of speaking to a live operator during normal business hours.
  • $75 fine can be levied to commercial drivers for “excessive engine braking noise.”