COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio drivers can now be ticketed for texting.
For the past six months, officers could issue warnings those who weren't complying with the statewide texting ban. That grace period ends Friday.
Texting while driving is now a secondary offense for drivers 18 and older. That means an officer has to stop a driver for another offense first, such as speeding.
But drivers who are minors are not allowed to text or use cellphones or other hand-held devices. For them it's a primary offense.
The law carries possible fines of $150 for the first offense. Repeat offenders could face a $300 fine.
The law doesn't trump city ordinances on texting or cellphone use that might be tougher.
All drivers can text and use their cellphones in cases of an emergency.
“I've got a daughter who will be driving,” Smith said. “She gets her permit in less than two weeks.”
Keeping her safe behind the wheel is something they've been talking about for a while now.
“It's a typical dad to teenager conversation. Trying to explain to her the dangers of what could happen.”
Dangers this dad has seen first hand.
“So many people I think don't take the time to talk to their kids and explain how quick things can change and that life goes on without them whether they're here or not, life goes on. And I don't want life to go on without mine. “
Here's how the new rules break down:
For adults-- you have to be pulled over for another offense to be charged with texting while driving.
There are several differences between the cell phone laws in Ohio and West Virginia. In Ohio, you can still hold on to your phone and talk if you're over 18. In West Virginia, you have to use a handsfree device.
But for Ohio teens, all electronics are banned. And it's a primary offense, so they can be stopped if an officer sees them texting.
Sergeant Smith is hopeful the new law will help keep his daughter—and her friends—safe.
“I think it's going to be instrumental in reducing crashes for that age group,” Smith said.
Although the law goes into effect August 31st, there will be a six month warning period before any tickets will be issued.
Troopers say drivers can still get warnings during that time period.
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