As of April 4, 2023, it is illegal for drivers in Ohio to use or hold a cell phone or electronic device. This is due to a new distracted driving law. According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, at least 60,421 crashes and 209 deaths related to distracted driving have occurred in the past five years.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol and local law enforcement will only issue warnings to violators for six months, but beginning Oct. 5, 2023, they will start issuing citations. Members of law enforcement can automatically pull any driver over if they see a phone or other electric device in their hand.
Violations of the Law
Anything that involves using, holding or supporting a device while driving violates the new law. This includes the following actions:
- Dialing a phone
- Sending a text message
- Looking at any social media
- Video calls
- Browsing the internet
- Watching videos
- Playing games
- Recording video
The law does not apply to the following:
- Wearing headphones/earphones
- Using a device integrated into the vehicle
- Using the speakerphone feature, as long as the device is not being supported by the driver’s body
- Streaming audio and navigational apps; they must be set up before embarking, or use a single touch or swipe to activate.
Exceptions to the Law
According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, there are a few exceptions to the law, which include:
- Drivers reporting an emergency to law enforcement, fire department, a hospital, a health care provider, or a similar emergency service
- Drivers holding a phone to their ear only during phone conversations initiated with a single swipe or touch
- Drivers using a cell phone or other electronic device when stopped at a traffic light or parked on a road or highway during an emergency or road closure
- First responders (e.g., law enforcement, fire, and EMS) using electronic devices as part of their official duties
- Utility workers operating a utility vehicle in certain emergency or outage situations
- Licensed operators using an amateur radio
- Commercial truck drivers using a mobile data terminal
- First-time offense—A fine of up to $150 and two points assessed to the driver’s license
- Second offense in a two-year period—A fine up to $250 and three points assessed to the driver’s license
- Third or more offenses in a two-year period—A fine of up to $500 and four points to the driver’s license, plus a possible 90-day suspension of the driver’s license
However, if the driver completes a distracted driving course, they may be able to reduce their penalties.
For More Information
Drivers can familiarize themselves with the new distracted driving law by reading it in full here. Contact Rinehart, Walters & Danner Insurance Agency to learn how this law may affect you.