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Jul 24, 2014 10:05 PM by Lauren Reimer

'Silver Alert' system goes into effect, among more than 200 other new state laws

TUCSON - More than 200 new state laws go into effect today. Among those, you are now allowed to drive a golf cart on the right side of some roads, and abortion clinics can be subject to inspections.

Among all these new laws, two are specifically designed to save lives.

Since the start of 2014, At least 7 different older Tucson adults have gone missing. One of them, twice. All but two were found safe.

Many of these people had existing medical conditions that could cause confusion. "So in a general sense it's a mental health crisis," said Clarke Romans, Executive director of the NAMI Southern Arizona chapter.

To hopefully prevent more of our seniors ages 65 and older from becoming victims to the elements, state lawmakers pushed for a new law, creating a warning system for missing endangered elderly. They're calling it the 'Silver Alert,' similar to the Amber Alert for children.

"Maybe the experience with this will help us expand the definition and understanding of who needs help and as we educate law enforcement and the community I think the whole cross section will be able to cooperate more effectively," said Romans.

Romans believes the new system will complement the training most police officers already have. "CIT, crisis intervention training," he said.

Another new law put in place is meant to protect another vulnerable group, youth, from something you can find in most medicine cabinets.

"People who are desperate will just chug a bottle of it and use it to get high," said Jamal Givens, Director for CODAC's Prevention, Training and Neighborhood Services.

Minors are now banned from buying over-the-counter cough medicine containing dextromethorphan.

"I think it is definitely a step I the right direction," said Givens.

Local law enforcement agencies say they still have to talk about their procedures for issuing a 'Silver Alert.' But in theory you could begin to see those notifications popping up in the news and on social media effective today.

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