CLEVELAND (WJW) – Put them down or be pulled over.
Starting Tuesday, a new law takes effect in Ohio that makes it illegal to use electronic devices while driving.
At a press conference Monday, Governor Mike DeWine praised the new law which received bipartisan support.
“This law will save lives no doubt about it,” said DeWine.
The law is beginning with a six-month grace period, during which time the state will be running a print, radio and video educational campaign called, “Lock the screen before you rock the road.”
Signs are being installed along roadways and information will be posted on the Ohio Department of Transportations digital message boards.
“This campaign will be out there everywhere,” said DeWine.
During the six-month grace period, officers will be issuing a warning to drivers breaking the new law, but beginning Oct. 4, 2023, a first offense will be punishable by a fine of up to $150 and two points on your license unless you complete a driving safety course.
Additional offenses will carry stiffer penalties.
2nd offense in two years: three points assessed to license and $250 fine.
3rd or more is two years: four points assessed to license and $500 fine with the possibility of a 90-day license suspension.
“So when we observe it, we don’t have to wait for another violation to occur or for someone to potentially cause a crash,” said Sgt. Ray Santiago, Ohio State Highway Patrol Public Affairs. “You know, just crashes from 2018 there are over 62,000 crashes that were caused due to distracted driving.”
Joining DeWine at the press conference in Columbus was a woman whose husband was killed by a distracted driver.
Leah Fullenkamp says her husband John was a farmer working on his tractor when he was struck by a woman who was “shopping on her cellphone” while driving.
Since the accident, the mother of four has been very vocal about the dangers of distracted driving.
“My hope is that my family’s story doesn’t become your family’s story,” said FullenKamp.
The new law does include exceptions for emergencies and/or if a vehicle is parked or stopped at a traffic light.
Although a nationwide survey found that 42% of drivers admitted to making phone calls behind the wheel, those FOX 8 spoke with Tuesday said they support the law and believe it will save lives.
“I think it’s a good change. People need to be more responsible on the roads,” said NiiTacki.