Important Info on Ohio’s Potential Texting While Driving Ban

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CLEVELAND – A law that bans texting behind the wheel is headed to Gov. John Kasich’s desk.

The state House and Senate approved the legislation, making it illegal to send a text message while driving.

The law would make Ohio the 38th state to ban texting while driving.

“I think it’s good because a lot of people get into accidents,” said Randi Smith of Akron. “They get distracted. I think it’s just a good thing. We need this.”

HOW IT AFFECTS ADULTS

The new law makes texting a secondary offense for adults – similar to the statewide seat belt law – meaning, drivers can only be ticketed if pulled over for another violation.

“We don’t need them being distracted or texting, looking down like this or anything else, you know,” said Bob Yowell of Painesville. “I mean, they don’t teach that in driver’s ed. Why would they allow it to happen in our country?”

HOW IT AFFECTS MINORS

The new law has stricter rules for younger drivers. Texting while driving would be a primary violation for those under 18. Additionally, it would be illegal for minors to use any electronic device in the car, with the exception of a GPS.

“Children really need to have their focus on what’s going on the road and around them,” Yowell said. “They have enough disturbances even going on in their own cars with the music and whatever else is going on.“

CITIES ALREADY WITH A BAN

Several Cleveland-area communities have already banned texting while driving.

Others like Brooklyn, South Euclid, North Olmsted, North Royalton and Woodmere forbid drivers from using a cell phone in the vehicle altogether.

The legislation states that if a city already has a ban, the state law would only replace it if the state law is stricter. If local law is stricter, then it would supersede state law.

FINES

According to the legislation, adults could pay up to a $150 fine for breaking the law.

Minors would be fined $150 for a first-time violation, plus their driver’s license would be suspended for 60 days.

Minors facing additional violations would face a $300 fine, plus their driver’s license would be suspended for an entire year.

“It’s more lenient than driving without insurance,” said Bill Porach of Cleveland. “You’re not going to die without insurance. You’re going to die texting, talking on the phone, not paying attention. So if it’s a few more dollars that’s going to wake them up, it’s a good idea.”

If Gov. Kasich approves the bill, it will become law 90 days after he signs it.

If enacted, the texting ban would have a six-month grace period, where violators would be issued warnings rather than fines and license suspensions.