“No more texting, no more emails, no more selfies, no more scrolling while you’re driving,” Director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety Andy Wilson said.
In April, state lawmakers passed a distracted driving bill that Governor Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) pushed for.
Once DeWine signed it, for the last six months, there has been a grace period where warnings were issued but now, drivers can get a ticket.
You will get pulled over if an officer sees you dialing a number, sending a text, scrolling on social media, watching videos or recording videos. However, under this law you can still report an emergency, hold your phone to your ear on a call (as long as it takes a single swipe to start the call) or use your phone at a traffic light.
For the first offense, you get two points on your license and a fine of up to $150. You can waive the fine and points after a first offense by taking a distracted driving course, free of charge, through the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
Then, another offense within two years is three points and a fine of up to $250. Any offense after that, again within two years, are four points, with fines of up to $500 and a possible 90-day license suspension. All fines double in work zones.
“This new law is really not about writing tickets, this new law is not about fines,” Governor DeWine said. “What this new law is about is saving lives.”
DeWine said last month Ohio saw its lowest number of distracted driving crashes within the past six years.
“That’s before a single ticket associated with this law as ever issued,” DeWine said. “The law is a teacher.”
Troopers are now launching new high visibility enforcement efforts and Colonel Jones said officers will be sure of the offense before pulling anyone over.
“It’s about making sure that the specific violations, that those elements are being met. And quite honestly if the elements aren’t met, then our troopers aren’t making the stops,” Jones said. “They’ve got to be able to go into court and be able to prove that that offense and violation did indeed occur.”
There is a new campaign to remind Ohioans about the law and encourage everyone to put their phones down.
DeWine said right now he does not foresee any tweaks to the law being needed,
but said he is open to re-evaluating things as data comes in.