Land of the Free cracks down on golfers and cat-killers

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A ban on smoking in California bars is not the only lifestyle- cramping law that went onto the statute book of American states with the New Year.

Under-18s in California will have to secure their parents' permission before having any part of their body pierced, while wailing car alarms will make drivers' cars liable to be towed away after 20 minutes, rather than 45 as at present.

Male privileges at country clubs in Connecticut are being curtailed as women golfers gain equal access to favoured teeing-off times and to club restaurants.

In New York State, drivers who kill or injure a cat will have to report the accident and face a fine of up to $100 (pounds 61) for not doing so. The change gives cats parity with dogs.

Also in New York, the fines on owners of dogs that bark too loudly or too long have been trebled - to $525 (pounds 320).