Finally...someone is taking notice of all the reckless driving while texting. Don’t get me wrong, I love my phone. I just don’t like when people swerve into my lane, drift or run lights because they are so busy texting while driving. Seriously? What can be so important, that you can’t wait until you are parked to text?
Learn how this ban will affect you and your family. Check out the Q & A, written by the Associated Press to learn more.
Q: When will the law take effect?
The law takes effect Aug. 30, 2012. State troopers and officers can't issue tickets or citations for the first six months after the effective date. However, they can give drivers a warning and provide information about the ban and using electronics.
Q: How will the ban work?
The law will make texting with handheld devices a secondary offense for adults. That means drivers can be ticketed for typing emails or instant messages only if they were first pulled over for another offense, such as running a red light or not stopping at a stop sign.
Q: How is it tougher on teen drivers?
The measure bans drivers under age 18 from using cellphones, iPads, laptops or other electronic devices. They can't make calls or browse the Web while driving. Texting or using an electronic device is a primary offense for minors, so they can more easily get ticketed if an officer catches them violating the ban.
Q: Are there any exemptions?
Yes, several. The measure does allow all drivers to text and use their cellphones in cases of an emergency and when the vehicle is stopped and off the road. Adult drivers cannot be cited for typing in a number or a name to make a call, among other exemptions.
Q: Can drivers still use hands-free devices, such as those that allow voice-operated texts?
Yes, but only adult drivers.
Q: What about hands-free GPS navigation devices?
Yes. And teens can use them, too, but they can't manipulate them while driving.
Q: What are the penalties for breaking the law?
Ohio's law makes texting a misdemeanor for drivers, with possible fines of $150. Minors can be fined $150 for the first offense and have their license suspended for 60 days. Repeat teen offenders can be fined $300 and have their license taken away for a year. The measure won't trump city ordinances on texting or cellphone use that might be tougher. The fines would be added to court costs, which vary by municipality.
Q: What does law enforcement think about the ban?
The Ohio Fraternal Order of Police supports the legislation. However, the group's president has said the organization would have preferred that texting be a primary offense for all drivers — not just teens — because it would have been easier to enforce. Still, Ohio FOP president Jay McDonald says the law will give officers an avenue to investigate whether texting has played a role in a crash or traffic accident.