The new year will bring with it more opportunities for Ohioans to be ticketed and fined, but
also some new benefits.
Starting Friday, Ohioans can be ticketed and fined $100 for failing to turn on their lights when their windshield wipers are on. Law enforcement has only been issuing warnings in the first six months since the law took effect.
Lt. Anthony Bradshaw of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said the motorists must turn on their headlights "anytime when the windshield wipers of the vehicle are in use because of precipitation," including rain, mist, snow, ice and fog.
"You want to make sure people coming down the road can see you," Bradshaw said.
The law is a secondary offense, meaning that motorists cannot be pulled over solely for failing to obey the new law. They must first be pulled over for something else, such as speeding, before they can be ticketed and fined for not having their headlights on.
Also, starting Friday, a new law goes into effect to make health insurance coverage more affordable for Ohioans with pre-existing conditions and chronic diseases.
The new law caps the rates that insurance companies can charge during the open enrollment period. Ohio Department of Insurance Director Mary Jo Hudson says the change will enable about 52,000 more Ohioans to buy coverage.
Beginning July 1, parents can purchase insurance for their children, as long as they are younger than 28, through their employer. Current law prohibits children from being covered through their parents' employer policies once they turn 22.
Other changes in the new year include:
-Tickets and fines for booster seat violations. Beginning April 7, drivers in Ohio can be fined up to $75 if they don't put children ages four through seven, or shorter than 4 feet 9 inches tall, in a booster seat. Like the headlights law, it is a secondary offense.
-Starting Friday, Ohioans can compare the state's hospitals with one another by using a computer. The Web site will compare prices and procedures, and will have 100 different ways to measure the comparison, including infection and death rates.
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