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Texting While Driving

A few years ago, a young woman was driving along a scenic highway and decided to change the station on her car radio. She took her eyes off the road for just a moment to change the dial, unaware that she was negotiating a curve shared with a pack of Sunday morning bicycle riders. Her inattention and inexperience caused her SUV to swerve only slightly, but that was sufficient to slam into the bike riders, killing one and injuring several others.

A recent safety study showed that distracted driving dramatically increases the risk of an automobile accident. High on that list of distractions is texting while driving. Ohio has joined 46 other states which have banned texting while driving. But Ohio has gone one step further.

Teens prohibited from texting and other electronic communication

If you are under age 18, it is illegal for you to use any electronic wireless communications device while driving in Ohio. You are not allowed, while you are operating a vehicle, to:

  • text
  • email
  • talk on a cell phone, or devices like Bluetooth or On-Star
  • use a computer, laptop or tablet
  • play video games
  • use a GPS system unless it is voice-operated or hands-free

You are forbidden to do any of these things even when your car is stationary because you’re stuck in traffic or waiting for a light to change. As long as you are within the lane of traffic, these activities are dangerous — and illegal.  If you want to make or receive a call or text, pull over! If you are in a stationary vehicle outside the land of traffic, you’re not breaking the law. The only other exception to the rule is making an emergency call to the hospital, the police or the fire department.

Law enforcement officers are permitted to stop a driver if they suspect the driver is a minor and engaging in any of these behaviors. While punishment includes a steep fine, the more severe sanction is a license suspension – 60 days for a first offense and a year for a second offense.

What happens to an adult who texts while driving?

The restrictions on adults are narrower than those placed on teens. Adults are also prohibited from using handheld electronic wireless communications devices to send or read or write a text while operating a vehicle in Ohio. While both adults and teens face a misdemeanor charge, convicted adults pay only a fine and do risk license suspension.

If you or someone you care about is charged with texting while driving, contact our skilled legal team at Yavitch & Palmer Co., LPA for a consultation with one of Ohio’s highly rated criminal defense practitioners. Our firm is listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers™ by Martindale-Hubbell®, as a select group of lawyers who are recognized for their skill and experience.

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