By Charles W. Morrison   |   January 26th, 2013

New Ohio Texting Law Focuses On Minors Under The Age Of 18

textingThe new Ohio texting ban went into effect on January 1, 2013. No longer are police just issuing warning tickets as they had been doing since September 2012.  After reviewing H.B 99 it’s fairly evident that the law primarily focuses on minors under the age of 18.

Strict Enforcement for Minors:

The new law makes texting, emailing, talking on your phone through any method, using computer, laptop, tablet, playing video games, or using a non-hands free GPS while driving a primary offense.  A “primary offense” means that any of the above acts can trigger a traffic stop and ticket.  This gives great authority to police officers executing this portion of the law.  Merely witnessing a minor with an electronic device in a vehicle is almost immediate grounds for a traffic stop. If you are a minor, you had better put your phone away while diving!

The penalties that result from one of these violations are very steep for minors.  For a first offense, minors face a 60-day license suspension, and a $150 fine.  Each subsequent violation renders a $300 fine and a one-year license suspension.

The Opposite Spectrum (18 years or older):

If you’re over 18, it is much more difficult to violate this law.  The restriction for adult drivers is that it’s illegal to use an electronic device to write, send, or read text messages while driving.  The law only lists “text message,” meaning any adult over the age of 18 can still play “Angry Birds” on their phone while driving without breaking the law (don’t though!).  This restriction is softened even more because receiving a citation for texting and driving can only occur as a secondary offense.  This means you’ll have to break some other traffic law before they’re able to pull you over.  You can relate this law to the seatbelt law, which requires you to first commit a primary offense in order to receive a ticket.  This law, for adults, doesn’t list any other offense other than “reading, writing, or sending a text message” which renders it quite hard to enforce. The penalty is a minor misdemeanor which carries a fine of up to $150.

Texting While Driving is Dangerous!

Distracted driving is very dangerous. No one, regardless of their age, should be doing it!  Among driving distractions, texting is extremely dangerous because it takes your eyes and attention off the road.

  • 40% of all American teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger (Pew Research Center).
  • About 50% of teens surveyed admit to texting while driving (AT&T Poll, 2012).
  • Texting while driving takes your eyes off the road for about five seconds.  At 55 miles per hour that’s like driving the length of a football field – 100 yards – with your eyes closed (USDOT).
  • You are 23 times more likely to crash while texting and driving (VTTI).

Intextication The Dangers Of Texting And Driving

Please be sure to refrain from any forms of distracted driving. If you need to send or read a text while operating a motor vehicle, PULL OVER – don’t risk either a ticket or injury!  We posted a previous article on texting titled “Intextication…The Dangers of Texting and Driving!” in April of 2011. Please click here to read it.

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About The Author: Charles W. Morrison
Charles "Bill" Morrison is Of Counsel with Dayton, Ohio, law firm, Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues and the managing editor of the Ohio Criminal Defense Law Blog. He is also a member of the Association of Ohio Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Texting While Driving Ban Now in Effect in Ohio
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