Ohio’s New ‘Texting While Driving’ Law Takes Effect Tuesday

COLUMBUS, Ohio (News Talk 1480 WHBC) – The state of Ohio hopes Tuesday is the start of a serious reduction in “texting while driving” accidents.

That’s because Senate Bill 288 takes effect, making use of an electronic device while driving a primary rather than secondary offense.

Sgt Bridget Matt with the Public Affairs Unit of the state patrol says there are exceptions though.

For instance, you can do a single swipe to answer the phone or hang up.

Or you can use a device while stopped at a traffic light.

But it is a pretty strict new law.

You can’t touch your phone, even if you are doing so while on speaker phone, though you can hold it up to your ear.

Here’s a portion of the news release from the governor’s office:

Ohio’s strengthened law designates the use of cell phones and other electronic communications devices while driving as a primary traffic offense for all drivers and allows law enforcement to immediately pull over a distracted driver upon witnessing a violation.

Under the previous law, distracted driving was a primary offense only for juvenile drivers, preventing officers from stopping adult distracted drivers unless those drivers also committed a separate primary traffic violation, such as speeding or running a red light.

There are some exceptions to the law, including allowing adult drivers to make or receive calls while using a hands-free device.

Adult drivers are also permitted to use GPS if they begin navigation before getting on the road.

Adult drivers are still permitted to hold a phone directly to their ear for a phone call.

But devices may only be activated with a single touch or swipe while driving.

Adult drivers are also permitted to hold or use electronic devices while stopped at a traffic light or parked on a road or highway during an emergency or road closure.

Both adults and juveniles can use phones at any time to report an emergency to first responders.