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Is Texting and Driving Illegal in Ohio?

November 22, 2019

Is it Illegal to Text and Drive in Ohio?

If you’ve ever used your phone while driving you’re probably wondering if what you are doing is illegal. It’s common knowledge that using a cellphone while driving is distracting and could result in a crash. With so many people using their mobile phones to text, talk, look up directions, and change music, more and more states are cracking down on their use while driving.

The law in Ohio states that “No person shall drive a motor vehicle, trackless trolley, or streetcar on any street, highway, or property open to the public for vehicular traffic while using a handheld electronic wireless communications device to write, send, or read a text-based communication.” (ORC 4511.204)

Are There Any Exceptions?

If you’re still wondering if texting and driving is illegal in Ohio, you should consider how you were using your phone. If you were on your phone to do the following, the use would be considered illegal:

  • Check social media
  • Send a text message
  • Read a text message
  • Read the news
  • Change the song

However, there are some exceptions to the law. These include:

  • Making emergency communication
  • Checking notifications of traffic or weather conditions
  • Using the device for navigation purposes
  • Using the device with hands-free functions
  • Using the device outside a lane of traffic

Is it Illegal to Talk on the Phone While Driving in Ohio?

Laws regarding talking on the phone while driving in Ohio typically apply to motorists under the age of 18 or those with a temporary permit or probated license. There are currently no restrictions determining if it’s illegal to talk on the phone while driving in Ohio for those over the age of 18.

Getting Caught Texting and Driving in Ohio

While it is illegal to text and drive in Ohio under the parameters listed, an officer cannot pull you over because they suspect you of texting and driving. ORC 4511.204 states that:

“No law enforcement officer shall cause an operator of an automobile being operated on any street or highway to stop the automobile for the sole purpose of determining whether a violation of division (A) of this section has been or is being committed or for the sole purpose of issuing a ticket, citation, or summons for a violation of that nature or causing the arrest of or commencing a prosecution of a person for a violation of that nature, and no law enforcement officer shall view the interior or visually inspect any automobile being operated on any street or highway for the sole purpose of determining whether a violation of that nature has been or is being committed.”

This means that motorists will only be pulled over for texting and driving in Ohio or talking on the phone while driving if they have committed another traffic violation. This includes:

  • Running a stop sign or red light
  • Causing an accident
  • Driving recklessly
  • Speeding

Penalties for Texting and Driving in Ohio

So you know that texting and driving is illegal in Ohio and it’s illegal to talk on the phone while driving in Ohio if you’re under the age of 18. If you’re still hit with a citation for violating this law, you can expect the following:

  • $150 fine and up to 60 day license suspension if you’re caught violating the Underage Wireless-Device-Usage Law
  • A second violation could double these penalties with up to a $300 fine and year-long suspension
  • $150 fine if you’re caught texting and driving – which is considered a minor misdemeanor
  • Other fines and penalties depending on the nature of the crime, which could include reckless driving or vehicular manslaughter charges

How to Avoid Using Your Device While Driving

The Ohio BMV suggests that you have everything you need on your device – such as music and navigation – prepared before you get in the car. If you can’t resist texting and driving, it might be smart to turn off your phone or put it on silent when driving to avoid distractions.

What to Do if You’ve Been Cited

If you’ve been issued a citation for texting and driving illegally in Ohio or talking on the phone while driving, contact a traffic offense lawyer in Columbus, Ohio for help with your case. These lawyers have the expertise and knowledge you need to receive the proper ruling in a court of law.

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