March 14, 2014
FRANKFORT – The Kentucky State Senate today passed legislation that would remove hurdles for bioptic drivers.
Senate Bill 143, sponsored by Senator Johnny Ray Turner, would allow a bioptic driving instructor to conduct additional training and recommend an applicant be allowed to retake a driver’s license examination after failing three times.
It would also eliminate the 36-month wait before a driver may be allowed to drive at night, instead allowing applicants to take the nighttime driving examination upon the recommendation of a vision specialist.
Under current law – the Kentucky Bioptic Driving Law – there is a 36-month night travel restriction for bioptic drivers. When the law took effect in 2001 the 36-month restriction was a precautionary approach to a new concept. In the past 12 years, the Kentucky Office for the Blind has learned that this portion of the law prohibits some drivers who actually see better at night due to their specific type of visual impairment from driving at night for three years. Those drivers who do not meet the criteria set forth in the legislation are still required to maintain the 36-month waiting period.
“This measure will allow some individuals with a vision impairment an opportunity to be more independent as quickly as possible upon the completion of obtaining their driver’s license,” said Senator Turner, D-Prestonsburg, who is a member of the Senate Transportation Committee. “It is invaluable in helping these individuals to maintain or gain employment, attend school or training, and travel to activities in their communities.”
Bioptic driving allows individuals with visual impairments to drive independently after successfully becoming a bioptic licensee. To date Kentucky has licensed 223 bioptic drivers and 86 of those individuals have had their night restriction removed.
SB 143 now moves to the House of Representatives for further action.
Senator Turner, who represents Floyd, Harlan, Knott and Letcher counties, has been a member of the State Senate since 2001 and has served as the Caucus Chair since 2001.