Starting Thursday, Ohio drivers need to be extra cautious about reaching for their phones while behind the wheel, as police are set to start issuing tickets under the state’s new distracted driving law. Although the law came into effect six months ago, a grace period allowed for warnings instead of immediate penalties.
The key points of Ohio’s distracted driving law include:
- Prohibition of Holding Electronic Devices: It is now illegal to hold a cell phone or any electronic device while driving on Ohio roads.
- Hands-Free Devices Allowed for Drivers Over 18: Drivers aged 18 and above can still use hands-free devices to make calls while driving.
- Exceptions: The law provides exceptions for calling emergency personnel and sending messages while stopped at a traffic light.
The fines and penalties for violating the distracted driving law are as follows:
- First Offense: Up to $150 in fines and two points on the driver’s license.
- Second Offense: Increased fines and points on the license.
- Third Offense (Within Two Years): Up to $500 in fines, four points on the license, and a 90-day driver’s license suspension.
It’s important to note that fines are doubled in work zones.
In Columbus, texting while driving has been prohibited since 2010, with a $150 fine for the offense. Various police agencies across the state have been enforcing distracted driving laws for years, treating it as a secondary offense. While police couldn’t pull over drivers solely for texting, they could issue citations for texting when stopping a driver for another violation.
This move is part of ongoing efforts to enhance road safety and reduce accidents caused by distracted driving. Drivers are encouraged to use hands-free options and prioritize safety to avoid fines and penalties.