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Don’t Text & Drive (It’s the Law)

transportation concept - man using phone while driving the car

Ohio has just passed a new law in order to reduce the number of device-related car accidents in this state. As of Friday, July 29, 2017, the use of a “handheld electronic wireless communications device to write, send, or read a text-based communication” is prohibited and punishable by law. In the United States, an estimated nine people are killed every day in car accidents that involve distracted drivers. Here’s what you need to know about the new law and how it could affect you.  

The Do’s & Don’ts

Under the Ohio Revised Code – it is illegal to operate a handheld electronic device while driving, with the following exceptions: emergency situations, duties involving the operation a public safety vehicle, and navigational and traffic safety purposes. But driving while distracted is never a good idea. If you’re texting, futzing with the music, gabbing to a buddy, etc., etc., you are not only jeopardizing your own safety; you’re putting everyone else on the road at risk, as well. So, first and foremost:

Don’t: text and drive. It’s not safe. It’s not legal.

Do: Purchase a hands-free attachment for your car. Sometimes you need directions. Sometimes your office calls and you know that it really can’t wait. But you also know you can’t pick up the phone while driving. Fixing a hands-free device to your dash allows you to remain accessible, even while in transit.

Don’t: Text at stop lights. Just because you’re stopped for the moment does not mean you’re in the clear. Pull over and park safely before operating your mobile device.

Do: what you have to do in case of emergency, but be sure to exercise caution at all times.

It only takes a few seconds for an accident-causing mistake to be made. The easiest thing you can do to prevent yourself from a distracted driving citation is to refrain from using your cell phone (or any other wireless handheld devices) altogether. This includes texting, selecting music, or answering a phone call. If you’re having trouble resisting temptation, Verizon Wireless has compiled a list of apps designed to block you from the use of your cell phone while driving. If you need to access GPS navigation while en route, find a safe place to park, and then type in your destination.

The Consequences

In the state of Ohio, the repercussions involved with a distracted driving citation vary per age. If you’re under 18, the use of a handheld device while driving is considered a primary offense. This means that an officer can stop you on sight if they just so happen to see you on your phone. From there, you could be facing a fine of $150 on top of a 60-day license suspension, even if it’s your first offense. And side note: subsequent offences could mean an entire year without your license.

Adults, on the other hand, are seen as more experienced drivers by default, so the laws are a little more relaxed. For those over the age of 18, it is considered a secondary offense, meaning you can’t be pulled over unless you’ve committed a separate traffic violation. In this case, the texting-and-driving citation would be tacked onto the initial offense as an additional fine (also $150). Whatever your age or level of driving experience, a distracted driving citation will not cost you points on your license, nor will it go on your record. But it’s dangerous, costly, and not worth the risk.

If you’re involved in an accident, and the cause was distracted driving, you may need the assistance of a criminal defense attorney. Yavitch & Palmer’s team of experienced lawyers and trial experts are here to help. Contact us for a consultation right away.   

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