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2020 Law Changes Coming to Kentucky

Published on Dec 20, 2019 by Thomas Law Offices.

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As we head into a new decade, law changes are coming to Kentucky. As a resident of the state, it’s important to stay up-to-date on what laws are being added or changed, so you know what your legal rights and responsibilities are. We understand how confusing legal documents can be, and lawmakers don’t always inform the general public of what’s to come in a digestible way. That’s why we’re here to inform you of the changes coming to Kentucky in 2020.

Many of the new laws could impact personal injury claims in the future. The laws we’ll be discussing in this blog revolve around vision testing for driver’s license renewals, ignition interlock licenses for drunk driving offenders, and the possibility of increasing the purchase age for tobacco products.

Vision Testing for Motor Vehicle Operators

Effective July 1, 2020, individuals looking to renew their driver’s license will be required to undergo vision testing from a trained vision assessor. Previously, vision testing was only required in order to get a first-time license. A minimum visual acuity of 20/40 is required. If a person does not meet that requirement, they will be directed to see a medical specialist for an exam and corrective measures before they can renew their license.

Good vision is necessary for driving because what you do behind the wheel is based on what you see. If you cannot see clearly, it’s difficult to judge distance or spot trouble. This means it could be impossible to assess a potentially dangerous situation and act in a way that prevents a crash. Peripheral vision is also important. If you can’t see out of the corner of your eye, you’ll be unable to check your blind spot.

Even if you can see clearly, your depth perception needs to be accurate as a driver. Not being able to judge distances could mean not knowing how far away another vehicle is. This can be particularly dangerous in inclement weather or heavy traffic because of the possibility of emergency stops.

Drivers also need to be able to drive in the dark as well as they can in the daytime. Even with good vision, some people have trouble seeing clearly in dim light. The glare of other headlights can also cause problems. This is why, in addition to the new renewal requirement, it’s important to have your eyes checked every year or two.

Changes to Ignition Interlock Licenses

Lawmakers in Kentucky are taking measures to strengthen the state’s DUI laws. Senate Bill 85, which will go into effect July 1, 2020, makes ignition lock devices (IID) available to all drunk driving offenders in the state. This increases accountability for DUI offenders.

This change was made because of the number of drunk drivers in Kentucky. Just in 2017, there were more than 24,500 DUI arrests. The old law required repeat DUI offenders and first-time offenders with a blood alcohol content of more than .15% to install an ignition interlock device. A first-time offender with a lower BAC, however, would receive a 30 or 120-day license suspension. This loophole allowed drunk drivers to ignore the suspension and continue to drive under the influence.

The changes to SB 85 strengthen the current law by instating the following provisions:

  • All DUI offenders are offered the ignition interlock device.
  • First-time offenders are incentivized to install an IID to face less severe penalties.
  • First-time offenders who do not install an IID will face more rigid consequences.
  • Repeat offenders are required to continue using the IID.
  • The IID program is now compliance-based, which means offenders have to complete a 120-day period of sober driving as part of the court-mandate program.
  • The IID program will be administered by the Transportation Cabinet.

Raised Tobacco Purchase Age Limit

Kentucky’s senior U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell announced that he and Senator Tim Kain from Virginia filed a bipartisan bill to raise the age to 21 nationwide to buy tobacco products. While this bill has not officially passed for 2020, it’s important to keep an eye on it, as tobacco purchase age limits are raising all over the country.

This proposal was sparked by the recent issues with e-cigarettes. According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, there have been 12 probable cases and six confirmed cases of severe lung injury as a result of vaping in 2019.

The law changes above could have an impact on personal injury claims. If you have questions regarding these changes or would like more information on their effects, get in touch with our law firm today. We’re here to answer your questions and ensure you can confidently head into 2020.

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Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

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