August 31, 2012
Ohio's texting-while-driving ban is now in effect. The ban is one of the country's most restrictive for minors, making it illegal for those under eighteen years of age to use any hand-held electronic device for any reason while driving. The ban applies even when drivers are stuck in traffic or stopped at a red light. Exceptions to the ban are made for pre-programmed voice-operated or hands-free GPS devices, using the devices while stationary and outside a lane of travel, and for bona fide calls to emergency personnel.
For minors, that means no calling, no texting, no looking up directions on a GPS device, no e-mails, no videogames, no surfing the web, no use of laptops and tablets, and no changing songs on an ipod.
The law classifies a violation as a primary offense, meaning that law enforcement personnel can pull-over minors who are suspected of being in violation of the law. Penalties for a first offense include a fine of $150 and a license suspension of 60 days. A second offense may bring a $300 fine and a license suspension of one year.
For adults, the state law prohibits drivers from writing, sending or reading text messages. An offense is a minor misdemeanor with the possibility of up to a $150 fine.
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