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What Is Ohio’s New Distracted Driving Law?

— February 7, 2023

In the case of distracted driving, the penalties increase according to the number of prior offenses the driver has committed. 

Ohio has recently passed a new distracted driving law aimed at reducing the number of accidents caused by drivers using their cell phones while behind the wheel. The law makes it illegal to hold or use an electronic wireless communications device while operating a motor vehicle on any street or highway in Ohio. This includes talking on the phone, sending text messages, checking email, and browsing the internet. Violators of the law will face fines and points on their driver’s licenses.

The new law is an effort to address the growing problem of distracted driving in the state. According to data from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, there were over 39,000 crashes in Ohio caused by distracted driving in 2019 alone. These crashes resulted in more than 1,100 injuries and 43 deaths. The hope is that by making it illegal to use a cell phone while driving, the number of distracted driving accidents will decrease and make the roads safer for everyone.

It is important to note that following the new distracted driving law in Ohio is not only a matter of obeying the law but also about keeping yourself and others safe on the road. Distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents, injuries, and fatalities on the roads, and using a cell phone while behind the wheel significantly increases the risk of a crash. By refraining from using your phone while driving, you are helping to prevent accidents, injuries and saving lives. Moreover, by following the new law, you will avoid fines, penalties, and points on your driver’s license, which could result in increased insurance rates and even license suspension. Not only is it critical to be aware of this new law but also to be aware of the consequences of our actions on the road.

Distracted Driving Is Dangerous

Distracted driving is dangerous because it takes a driver’s attention and focus away from the task of driving, which increases the risk of a crash. When a driver is distracted, they may not be able to react quickly to unexpected hazards on the road, such as a sudden stop by another vehicle or a pedestrian crossing the street. Additionally, when a driver is looking at their phone, their eyes are off the road, which can result in missing important visual cues, such as traffic signals, other vehicles, or even pedestrians. As a result, distracted driving increases the risk of causing an accident that could result in serious injury or death. This is especially concerning in Ohio, where data from the Ohio State Highway Patrol shows that there were over 39,000 crashes caused by distracted driving in 2019 alone, resulting in over 1,100 injuries and 43 deaths. This highlights the importance of following Ohio’s new distracted driving law and the importance of staying focused on the road while behind the wheel.

What Does the Distracted Driving Law Prohibit?

The new distracted driving law in Ohio interestingly enough does not prohibit a driver from holding a telephone near their ear while they are making a phone call, from using the telephone on speaker, from calling 911, or from touching the phone once to initiate or end a conversation. While it does not prohibit drivers from making phone calls or texting while driving, it does prohibit them from dialing a phone number to make a telephone call (aside from 911). Furthermore, the use of a navigational app is allowed, as long as the driver is not physically holding the phone.

Driver using cell phone; Photo by Roman Pohorecki from
Driver using cell phone; Photo by Roman Pohorecki from

What Are the Penalties for Breaking The New Distracted Driving Law?

In the case of distracted driving, the penalties increase according to the number of prior offenses the driver has committed.  First-time offenses are considered minor misdemeanors and are punishable by a fine of up to $150 and two points on one’s license.  It is possible to receive a fine of up to $250 and three points on one’s license as a result of a second offense within two years.  An individual who commits a third offense within two years may be fined up to $500, have four points assessed to their license, and have their license suspended for 90 days.  Any violation occurring in a construction zone will result in a double fine.  As an additional option, a first offender may take a distracted driving course in order to avoid a fine and points off their license. 

How An Ohio Distracted Driving Lawyer Can Help

If you have been cited for breaking Ohio’s new distracted driving law, an experienced attorney can help you navigate the legal process and potentially minimize the consequences. A distracted driving lawyer can review the evidence against you, including the officer’s report and any traffic camera footage, to ensure that your rights were not violated during the citation. They can also help you to understand the potential penalties you may face and provide you with guidance on how to proceed.

An Ohio distracted driving lawyer can also work with the prosecution to negotiate a plea bargain on your behalf. This could result in reduced charges or penalties, such as a lower fine or fewer points on your driver’s license. If necessary, your attorney can also represent you in court and argue your case before a judge. They can also advocate for any defensive evidence you may have, such as if you got lost and you were trying to figure out your location using your phone or any other circumstantial evidence that may help your case. It’s worth noting that, even if you have a valid defense, going through the legal process without an attorney is challenging, and having an attorney by your side can make the process less stressful and increase your chances of a favorable outcome.

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