It’s official: As of August 31, 2012, texting while driving has become illegal throughout the State of Ohio, becoming the 39th state in the country to enforce this law. Interestingly enough, drivers will not be penalized for texting while driving until March 1, 2013. The bill was signed into law by Governor John Kasich and outlines specific guidelines for adults and minors.
For adults, texting while driving is a secondary offense, which means an officer may not pull an adult over solely on suspicion of texting while driving. The bad news for minors is that they can be pulled over not only for a suspicion of texting, but for operating any handheld, electronic device. This includes flipping through tunes on your iPod but excludes using a GPS device (sometimes every driver needs one to survive the open road).
After March 1, all drivers can be fined up to $150 for their first offense and up to $300 for a second offense. Minors must also be aware that their driver’s license may be suspended for up to six months after their first offense and for one year after their second offense. Drivers, be informed: a warning is all you will receive from an officer until March 1, however it is still crucial to continue to practice safe and attentive driving.
Finally, the law has been regulated throughout the entire State of Ohio, eliminating the confusion for drivers entering cities that they were not aware had a texting while driving policy. Drivers in Northeast Ohio especially, should also keep in mind that certain cities have a ban on the use of cell phones altogether while operating a vehicle. These cities include Beachwood, Brooklyn, North Olmsted, North Royalton, South Euclid, Walton Hills, and Woodmere.
A recent survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 35% of drivers admit to texting behind the wheel, half of which were between the ages of 18-24. Still not convinced about the serious danger of texting while driving, Ohioans? In the U.S. in 2009, it was reported that nearly 5,500 people were killed and 448,000 injured from distracted driving. 116% of fatal accidents involving teenagers were due to distracted driving as well. What other statistics could you possibly need?
The texting and driving epidemic has become increasingly more prevalent and dangerous in the past few years and these laws have been put in place to protect citizens from injury. If you or anyone you know has been injured in a texting and driving related accident, please contact the legal team at Bentoff and Duber.