Texting and Driving in Ohio – Is It Illegal and What are the Penalties?
Ohio’s texting and driving law went into effect last month. The extent of the restriction depends on the age of the driver. For those eighteen (18) and over, texting and driving is a “secondary offense,” which means that the police cannot stop the driver without another reason (such as swerving, speeding, etc.). So, while texting and driving for those eighteen and over is technically illegal, the police cannot stop the texting driver to issue a citation unless the driver is also breaking some other traffic law. The fine for an adult driver texting and driving is a minor misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $150 and would be tacked on to the fine for whatever other traffic offense the driver was committing that actually caused the traffic stop.
However, fair warning: everything that I talked about above is a description of the Ohio texting law that applies to everyone in the state. Individual cities are permitted to pass their own stricter texting and driving laws, which could make texting and driving a primary offense. Many Cleveland suburbs have enacted local ordinances that make texting and driving a “primary offense,” which means that the police can stop the driver without any other reason. Many of these local ordinances also impose much higher fines.
Backing up to the Ohio texting law that applies to everyone in the state, for drivers seventeen (17) and under the rules are a little stricter. For these younger drivers, texting while driving is a “primary offense,” which means that the police can stop the young driver without any other reason. The younger drivers are also subject to the $150 fine, and are subject to the additional potential penalty of losing their license for 60 days. Additional offenses carry a $300 fine and the potential for a one-year license suspension. These young drivers are also banned from talking on the phone at all – no hands free or Bluetooth – nothing. Again, local ordinances may impose even harsher penalties. If a driver causes a car accident while texting and driving, he or she may be liable for punitive damages.
If you have questions about any of the legal issues raised in this blog, contact Dodosh Law Offices, LLC at 844-CLE-LAW1, (844) 253-5291. Or, you can email Attorney Nicholas Dodosh at email@example.com or fill out a contact form and Attorney Dodosh will get in touch with you.