Image of law books and a gavel, representing how a Fishers attorney from Camden & Meridew helps central Indiana clients with legal matters arising under old and new Indiana laws.

New Indiana Laws in 2020

The Indiana General Assembly convenes every spring to consider and enact laws to govern our state. When passed, some laws become effective immediately, while others have a July 1 effective date. Hoosiers are bound by the new Indiana laws, but many may miss the announcement and unknowingly run afoul of a new statute. Here we summarize some of the most broadly impactful new laws now in effect.

New Indiana Laws You Need to Know About

When the legislature meets, it considers bills on many different topics. Bills may relate to criminal law, health matters, labor relations, state or local governance, or many other topics. Once enacted, these laws update our Indiana Code, a collection of laws organized by topic and numbered.

Most Indiana citizens do not closely follow the activities at the Indiana Statehouse, but all are bound by the state’s laws. To bring you up-to-date, check below for a summary of the new Indiana laws of note. All went into effect July 1, 2020, unless otherwise stated.

New Indiana Distracted Driving Law: Put that Phone Down

The new Indiana distracted driving law, Indiana Code § 9-21-8-59, prohibits holding or using a mobile device while driving. Previously, Indiana law prohibited texting while driving but did not explicitly address other mobile device uses, such as dialing or checking maps. The new distracted driving law prohibits all uses and even holding the phone while driving, although there is an exception for calling 911 to report an emergency.

Officers are not authorized to confiscate a mobile device although they may extract or download information from a device in limited circumstances. And, although the law is now in effect, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles cannot assess points for violating this provision until July 1, 2021.

The Indiana Smoking Age Is Now 21

Indiana is one of at least 20 states that has raised the age to buy tobacco and vaping products to 21. Under the new Indiana smoking age law, Indiana Code § 35-46-1-10.5 anyone under age 21 is prohibited from purchasing, accepting, or buying tobacco, e-liquid, or e-cigarette products. Certain business exceptions apply, such as possession for agricultural, processing, retail, or transporting purposes.

This law comes on the heels of a December 2019 update to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which prohibits the sale of tobacco products to anyone under age 21.

Indiana No Longer Uses ILEARN Testing to Evaluate Teachers

The ILEARN testing framework was instituted for the 2018-2019 school year to evaluate student performance according to Indiana Academic Standards. Test results were also tied by law to teacher compensation increases. Since the use of ILEARN testing began in 2018, test results and opinions about the test have been contentious at best.

The legislature responded to concerns about the efficacy of the standardized test and its impact on teachers and students by passing HEA 1002, which Governor Eric Holcomb signed on  March 21, 2020, eliminating the use of ILEARN testing to evaluate teachers for compensation increases.

The Minimum Age to Marry in Indiana Is Now 16

Many would be surprised to learn that fifteen-year-olds could with a parent’s permission marry—until 2020. With the passage of HEA 1006, only adults may marry without court involvement. Indiana Code chapter 31-11-1 does not permit anyone under age 16 to marry, and 16- and 17-year-olds may marry only if both are at least 16 years old and there is no more than four years’ age difference between them. Additionally, any minor wishing to marry must petition the court for emancipation and obtain permission to marry from that court.

New Laws on Healthcare Expenses Provide Advance Notice

Going to the hospital can be like losing the lottery—you don’t know the cost until the bills comes in the mail. With the passage of SB 5, that will begin to change. Effective March 31, 2021, hospitals, urgent care centers, and outpatient surgery facilities must publish on their respective websites the costs of their most frequently used services. The statute also requires the Indiana Department of Insurance to establish a database showing the cost of common procedures by provider.

A new medical billing law also gives Hoosiers a heads-up on pricing before they receive medical treatment. Upon request, HEA 1004 requires most healthcare providers to prepare a good faith estimate of the cost of medical treatment.

Where to Turn for Help with Old and New Indiana Laws: Camden & Meridew

The attorneys at Camden & Meridew, P.C. know that your legal needs are personal and have a significant impact on your life, and we keep up-to-date on new Indiana laws so we can give our clients the most up-to-date information. We help clients in a wide variety of practice areas, treating our clients’ problems as our own. Whether you need help with a business problem, bankruptcy, tax issues, a commercial or consumer law dispute, a family law matter, or other civil law matters in central Indiana, we can help. For a consultation with a Fishers attorney ready to help you, call us at 317-770-000 or complete our online contact form.