New bill stiffens Ohio’s texting and driving laws

Changes coming to distracted driving laws in Ohio
Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 5:50 PM EST
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SOUTH POINT, Ohio (WSAZ) - Changes to Ohio State law are cracking down on distracted driving.

“I think it’s terrible that people drive with their cell phones and they don’t even look at the traffic a lot of times,” said Violet Jenkins.

Earlier this month, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 288 into law, which strengthens laws in Ohio related to the use of cell phones and other electronic devices while driving.

The bill 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.

Ohio State Highway Patrol reported 34 people were killed as a result of distracted driving crashes in 2022. Although, distracted driving is known to be underreported.

The law goes into effect in April of 2023.

Law enforcement will issue warnings to drivers found violating the law for the first six months following the effective date. After this six-month grace period, law enforcement will have the authority to issue citations. Penalties include a fine of up to $150 for a driver’s first offense and two points on their license unless a distracted driving safety course is completed. Increased penalties can occur if the driver is a repeat offender.