Georgia 2020 Law Changes

Every time you turn the news on, you likely hear about the decisions our state’s legislatures are making; but understanding the implications of law changes can seem confusing. Legal documents aren’t always easily digestible, which is why we’re here to provide you with a breakdown of some of the law changes you’re bound to notice in 2020. The majority of these laws take effect on January 1, 2020, but it’s important to note that law changes will continue to happen as the year progresses.

We pride ourselves on staying current with Georgia’s laws, so we can serve our clients and build the strongest cases possible. Let’s take a look at five of the law changes happening in our state in 2020.

Department of Drivers Services Authorization Abilities

Effective January 1, 2020, Code Section 40-5-27 now allows certain licensed driver training schools authorized by the Department of Driver Services to administer the knowledge test, on-the-road driving skills tests, and other tests required for the issuance of a driver’s license. Eligible licensed driver training schools include those that have been offering driver education courses on a full-time basis for a two-year period. They also have to meet all other standards the Department establishes.

To take the on-the-road driving skills test, Georgia residents must have successfully completed a classroom or online driver training course which includes a minimum of 30 class hours of instruction. Additionally, a potential licensed driver must complete six hours of private in-car instruction provided by a licensed instructor employed by a driver training school. The requirements are in place to ensure drivers are aware of the laws of the road and how to drive responsibly and avoid traffic accidents.

Regulating the Anchoring of Vessels

This amendment to Title 52, which relates to waters of the state, ports, and watercraft, gives the Board of Natural Resources the ability to enact rules and regulations regarding where vessels can anchor within estuarine areas to protect the public health, safety, and welfare from the discharge of sewage.

An estuary is a partially enclosed coastal body of brackish water. One or more rivers flow into it, and there’s a free connection to the open sea. The reason anchoring vessels in those locations is problematic is because estuaries form a transition zone between river environments and maritime environments. This is referred to as ecotone. Because animals and habitats exist on both sides of the zone, boats and other vessels have the potential to cause damage to either or both.

Fetal Heartbeat Law

One of the country’s most restrictive abortion laws goes into effect in Georgia on January 1, 2020. It bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. House Bill 481 also includes an unborn fetus at any stage of development in the state population. The “Women’s Right to Know Act” will be amended to provide women seeking an abortion with the presence of a human heartbeat. Additionally, the right to recover for the full value of a child begins at the first detection of a heartbeat in the womb in the case of homicide.

Filing Fees for Property Damage Documents

A flat fee structure will be implemented to revise the sums that the clerks of the superior courts can charge and collect for filing documents related to real estate or personal property in Fulton County. Previously, the fee varied by county. In regard to personal injury, this affects the documents needed for premises liability cases. When a claim is filed in magistrate court, the plaintiff must pay a filing fee, which includes the charge to serve one defendant.

Enacting the Pharmacy Anti-Steering and Transparency Act

The Pharmacy Anti-Steering and Transparency Act will prohibit pharmacies from engaging in certain practices, require pharmacies to file annual disclosure statements, and establish violation procedures and limited liability. These changes are being made to ensure the delivery of high-quality patient care with respect to medications, allow patients to choose their pharmacies, and increase transparency. This goes into effect on January 1, 2020.

If you have questions about the new laws going into effect in 2020, our lawyers can provide you with a comprehensive explanation. We have experience decoding and explaining complex legal documents, so we can digest what the new bills will do. If you believe your personal injury claim could be affected by one of the las discussed above, we can look into that matter for you, as well. To learn more about 2020 law changes or for information on pursuing a civil case, contact our office today.

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