Distracted driving law is in effect


As of April 4, it is illegal to use or hold a cell phone or electronic device in your hand, lap or other part of the body while driving on Ohio roads, according to information from the Ohio Department of Public Safety and the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Violators of the new law can be pulled over by law enforcement officers. The Ohio State Patrol and local law enforcement will issue warnings for six months as part of the effort to educate and help motorists adapt to the new law.

Beginning Oct. 5, 2023, law enforcement will start issuing citations for violating this law. A first offense will take two points from a driver’s license and impose up to a $150 fine. A second offense will take three points from a driver’s license and impose up to a $250 fine. A third offense or more will take four points from a driver’s license, impose up to a $500 fine, and include a possible 90-day driver’s license suspension.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 288 on Jan. 3, 2023, to strengthen laws related to the use of cell phones and other electronic devices while driving.

“Right now, too many people are willing to risk their lives while behind the wheel to get a look at their phones,” said DeWine. “My hope is that this legislation will prompt a cultural shift around distracted driving that normalizes the fact that distracted driving is dangerous, irresponsible, and just as deadly as driving drunk.”

Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera and Hillsboro Police Chief Eric Daniels are both in support of the new law.

“I think it’s the number one problem right now,” Daniels said previously. “To actually get up beside somebody where you can see them and going down the road meeting them in the opposite direction in town in Hillsboro will sure help the police department see people texting and be able to make a vehicle stop and deter people from doing it.”

Barrera said, “I think it will help law enforcement everywhere with people who are being distracted drivers. You see it all the time – people going down the road texting and driving and looking at their phones – and it’s going to deter them.”

Under the law, drivers over 18 years old can make or receive calls using hands-free devices. In most cases, anything more than a single touch our swipe is against the law.

Drivers can listen to audio streaming apps and use navigational equipment if they turn them on before getting on the road or use a single touch or swipe to activate, modify or deactivate them. Drivers under the age of 18, however, are still restricted from using their devices in any way, including hands-free features.

Emergency calls are permitted in all circumstances.

Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.

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