Ohio Texting-while-Driving Ban Takes Full Effect

Ohio police across the state can now start citing drivers for using cell phones while driving after the expiration of a six-month grace period during which officers were allowed only to give warnings for those violating the ban. The ban originally took effect at the end of August 2012.

Repercussions of getting caught using a phone while driving will differ for drivers under and over 18 years old, as will enforcement of the ban.

Motorists under 18 who get caught using a cell phone in any way behind the wheel can face a fine of $150 and a 60-day license suspension. If they get caught a second time, the fine and suspension periods double.

For adults, the maximum fine is $150, and there is no license suspension associated with the violation.

The part of the law that applies to adults only includes texting; talking on a phone while behind the wheel is not technically a ticketable offense for them under the law.

In addition to harsher penalties, enforcement will also be tougher for under-18 drivers. For them, violations of the ban will be a primary offense. That means police can pull over under-18 drivers solely because they suspect them of texting while driving.

When it comes to adults on the phone behind the wheel, the violation will only be a secondary offense, meaning police can only cite them for the violation if they’ve already pulled them over for another offense, such as speeding.

Some areas of the state already enforce bans on using phones while driving, some of which are harsher than the statewide ban that fully took effect Friday, according to Mary Bonelli, spokeswoman for the Ohio Insurance Institute. In those cases, the local repercussions will take precedence over those included in the statewide ban.

Violations of the statewide ban will not be technically classified as a moving violation, which means the cell phone violation itself is not likely to get onto Ohioans’ driving records and cause insurance premiums to increase. In the case of younger drivers, however, the license suspension that comes along with a violation could push up what are already likely to be high teenage car insurance rates.

When Gov. John Kasich finalized the law in June, Ohio became the 39th state in the country to ban texting while driving.

About Ben Zitney
Benjamin Zitney has been covering the auto insurance industry for the past 2.5 years. Before coming to Online Auto Insurance News, he produced an extensive company history of the 30-year-old California Joint Powers Insurance Authority and worked at the Cal State Long Beach Daily Forty-Niner as a reporter, copy editor and news editor.

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