As we head into a new decade, it’s important to be aware of the 2020 law changes coming to Kentucky. While many of the newly submitted laws won’t take effect until later in the year, understanding the potential implications and your obligations as a resident of the state are crucial. Some of the law changes you should be aware of include modifications to the ignition interlock license system, a new tobacco purchase age limit, and vision testing for driver’s license renewals.
Ignition Interlock License for DUI Offenders
When someone is charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, the state may issue restricted driving privileges with an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). The process involves applying with the convicting court, being ordered to participate, and submitting an Ignition Interlock Application and a non-refundable fee. Currently, the law states that repeat DUI offenders and those with a blood alcohol content higher than .15 are required to have an IID installed.
Once installed, the driver is required to blow into the device to determine their blood alcohol content (BAC). If the device registers the driver’s BAC as legal, the vehicle will start. The court determines how long the driver is required to have the device installed in their car. Two weeks prior to the end of the IID period, the driver will receive a letter and a Certified Ignition Interlock Installer can uninstall the device.
Depending on the number of offenses and any consequences, like a car accident, caused by the drunk driver, the person may not be eligible for an IID. Instead, they could have their license revoked or they could be looking at jail time.
A new law, stated in Senate Bill 85, primarily affects the penalty for first-time offenders. Starting July 1, 2020, first-time offenders will have the option of installing an IID in order to face a shorter license suspension. Those who decline the IID will face a longer license suspension. It’s estimated that ignition interlock laws reduce drunk driving deaths by 16 percent. Depending on a person’s vision, they could be restricted to daytime driving.
Raising the Tobacco Purchase Age Limit
Come 2020, you will see changes made to how old a consumer has to be to purchase tobacco products. Back in April 2019, Kentucky’s state’s senior U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell filed a bipartisan bill with Senator Tim Kain of Virginia to raise the age to 21 nationwide to buy tobacco products.
On December 20, 2019, President Donald Trump signed a spending package that raises the federal legal age for purchasing tobacco from 18 to 21. Additionally, a bill to raise the legal age in Kentucky specifically was pre-filed by State Senator Ralph Alvarado to ensure Kentucky meets the federal law. The new law includes traditional tobacco products, e-cigarettes, and vaping cartridges.
Vision Testing and Driver’s License Renewal
Also effective July 1, 2020, driver’s license holders will be required to undergo vision testing upon renewal. Currently, all new drivers must pass a vision test of 20/40 or better and renewals only require a vision test if the expiration date is older than one year. If the applicant cannot meet the standard, they must see a vision specialist to seek correction.
The vision testing is now required for renewals to ensure the drivers on the road are fully capable of safely operating their vehicles. A trained vision assessor will conduct the test at the time of renewal. That person is considered a licensed professional authorized by the Transportation Cabinet to perform the test.
This change is being made in an attempt to reduce the overall number of traffic accidents. Inadequate sight has the potential to result in serious or even fatal crashes because the driver may be unable to properly judge distances, have problems with their peripheral vision, or be aware of when to stop or slow down.
At Golden Law Office, our attorneys work diligently to stay current with all the law changes in the state—especially the ones that could have an impact on our clients’ personal injury cases. If you have questions about the laws discussed above or you want to stay up-to-date on law changes throughout the year, we’re here for you.
If you’ve recently been injured in an accident that you believe someone else caused, you need legal representation from a personal injury lawyer. Accidents are expensive in more ways than one, so we can help your recover physically, financially, and emotionally so you can securely move through 2020. Contact us today to learn more.