EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – There are a handful of new laws going into effect in the Tri-State on July 1st.

Here’s a look some of the most notable changes beginning Wednesday:

Holding a cellphone while driving is now illegal

Perhaps the biggest change affecting Tri-Staters will be House Bill 1070, which will prohibit people from holding or using a cellphone while driving. You may, however, use a phone through hands-free technology or to call 911 when there is an emergency.

An existing law prohibited drivers from texting, but law enforcement found this law hard to enforce. Now police may issue a ticket if they see a phone or other device in your hands. The law includes holding your phone at a red light.

If you’re ticketed for holding your phone while driving after July 1, you could be fined a maximum of $500, a Class C infraction.

Beginning July 1, 2021, points will be added to your license if the law is broken.

The new law aims to reduce distracted driving, which caused more than 10,400 crashes in Indiana in 2019, according to Indiana State Police. Nearly 2,000 of the crashes caused an injury and 19 were fatal.

Vaping and smoking age now at 21

Senate Bill 1 bans people under 21 from buying or possessing tobacco, e-cigarettes or e-liquids, which is already a federal law.

The bill also makes selling these products to underage customers a Class C infraction. Sellers will have to pay $400 if they violate the law, an increase from the previous $200 maximum fine. They will have to pay even greater fines if they received previous citations in the past year.

Test scores no longer required for teacher evaluations

Another law that will go into effect on July 1 will make student test scores no longer a required part of teacher evaluations.  Currently, test scores are a substantial component of evaluations.

The Indiana State Teachers Association, the state’s largest teachers union, pushed for this to change, saying test scores are an inadequate measure of a teacher’s effectiveness and ability, and better predict a child’s income level and background than the teacher’s quality. 

Charges for out of network medical billing

Starting on July 1, when patients see an out-of-network medical practitioner at an in-network facility, they can’t be charged more than the in-network price for the medical care. However, patients can be charged a higher rate if they receive a notice from their provider at least five days before the appointment with an estimated cost of the medical care and they consent to the cost.

Water at schools must be tested for lead

Another law requires officials to test all school’s water for lead by New Year’s Day in 2023, unless the school has been tested since 2016. If the water contains 15 parts per billion of lead, the entity must remedy the school’s high lead level.

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(This story was originally published on June 30, 2020)