Effective August 31, 2012, House Bill 99 made it illegal throughout Ohio to text while driving. However, until March 1, 2013, drivers can only be issued a warning.
The new law makes the use of any electronic communication device by a minor a primary offense, meaning that any Ohio driver under the age of 18 cannot talk on the phone at all, even with the use of Bluetooth or hands-free devices. The only exceptions to this rule are vehicles in a stationary position and outside the lane of travel and calls to law enforcement or other emergency services.
On March 1, 2013, both minors and adults can be fined up to $150.00 for their first offense and $300.00 for their second offense, however, police may only pull over adult drivers who also break another traffic law.
In addition to a fine, minors face the potential of a license suspension up to 60-days for a first offense and a potential one (1) year suspension after a second offense.
Lawmakers are emphasizing that the ban does not apply to just texting, but to checking your phone at all. In an article written by Nikki Ferrell of The Solon Patch, State Senator Tom Patton stated, “It is important to note that ‘texting’ includes writing, sending, and reading any text-based communication including text messages and emails, as well as traditional mobile-to-mobile texts.”
According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety:
If you’re under 18 years of age (even when sitting at a light or stuck in traffic):
- No texting
- No e-mailing
- No talking on your cell phone, Bluetooth, Bluetooth speakers, On-Star or any similar device
- No computers, laptops or tablets
- No playing video games
- No using GPS (unless it is a voice-operated, hands-free device or pre-programmed)
Adult drivers (18 years or older):
- It is illegal to use a handheld electronic wireless communications device to write, send or read a text message while driving in Ohio.