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No More Warnings! Ticketing Now Begins for Ohio’s New Distracted Driving Law

On April 4, the state of Ohio implemented a new distracted driving law, significantly changing how we handle mobile devices while behind the wheel. This law now categorizes the use of cell phones or any electronic devices while driving as a primary offense, which means that law enforcement officers have the authority to pull you over and issue a citation if they catch you in violation.

For the past six months, Ohio police officers have primarily given warnings as drivers adjusted to this new rule. However, starting yesterday, October 5, they are actively issuing citations.

What’s Prohibited While Driving Under This New Law?

Drivers Under 18: Any use of cell phones is strictly prohibited, even if it’s hands-free.

Drivers 18 and Older: The following activities are illegal while driving:

  • Sending text messages (hands-free voice-to-text is permitted).
  • Dialing phone numbers.
  • Browsing the internet or engaging in social media.
  • Playing games.
  • Watching videos (except for GPS or navigational displays).
  • Making video calls.
  • Recording or streaming video.

There Are, However, a Few Exceptions:

  • Open Communication: Maintaining open and honest communication with your employer or HR department is essential. Notify them of your diagnosis, treatment plan, and anticipated absences as soon as possible.
  • Documentation: Keep detailed records of medical appointments, treatments, and any communication about your condition and accommodations.
  • Know Your Rights in Ohio: Be aware of your legal rights and protections under the ADA and other applicable Ohio laws.
  • Seek Legal Counsel in Ohio: If you encounter workplace discrimination, harassment, or difficulties in obtaining reasonable accommodations in Ohio, consult with an attorney experienced in Ohio employment law.

Certain professionals, such as first responders, utility workers responding to emergencies or outages, licensed operators using amateur radios, or commercial truck drivers using mobile data terminals, are exempt from these restrictions.

What Can You Do While Driving Legally?

You can still engage in phone conversations using a speakerphone, an earpiece, a wireless headset, or your smartwatch or by connecting your phone to your vehicle via Bluetooth or other methods that don’t require physical interaction with the phone.

Listening to audiobooks and music streaming apps is acceptable, but you must start playing them before hitting the road.

What Are the Penalties for Violating This Law?

The consequences for violations are as follows:

  • First offense: Incurs two points on your driver’s license and a fine of up to $150.
  • Second offense: Results in three points and a fine of up to $250.
  • Subsequent offenses: Each subsequent violation adds four points, with fines of up to $500 and the possibility of a 90-day license suspension.
  • Fines are doubled if the offense occurs in a work zone.

Accumulating 12 or more points on your license within two years leads to a six-month license suspension, requiring completion of a remedial driving course, retaking the driving exam, and demonstrating proof of insurance to reinstate the license.

Motorists caught violating this new law can also opt to complete a distracted driving course to avoid fines and points on their license.

Contact Elk + Elk

If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident in Ohio caused by distracted driving, Elk + Elk can help. Call now for a free case review at 1-800-ELK-OHIO (1-800-355-6446). We provide answers and support throughout the entire process.