New Ohio Traffic Laws Are Aiming to Reduce Distracted Drivers

by TNyland 12. February 2019 07:33

Distracted driving killed one person every two and a half hours in 2016. According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), 3,450 people were killed by distracted driving in 2016.

On October 29, 2018, Ohio's House Bill 95 went into effect. With this bill, law enforcement officers are not required to prove that a driver is texting while operating a vehicle, but only that a moving violation has occurred, and/or that the driver was distracted at the time.

"In the past, an officer would have to prove that the driver was texting. Now the new distracted driving law would include any activity that the officer observed such as using a handheld wireless communications device like a cell phone…. Engaging in any activity not necessary to the vehicles operation that impairs the ability to drive safely such as, putting on makeup, eating a sandwich, drinking a coffee, dog on your lap, or navigating on your GPS, just to name a few," stated Hiram Police Chief Brian Gregory.

Ohio House Bill 95 Illegal Actions While Driving

  • Writing, sending, or reading text messages
  • Using Cell phone for internet
  • Holding pets
  • Putting on makeup
  • Aka: any activity that the officer deems is not necessary to the vehicles operation and is impairing the driver's ability to operate a vehicle safely

Ohio House Bill 95 Fines

  • First offense: misdemeanor
  • If you are convicted with a second offense within a year of your first violation of the law, violator will be considered for a third-degree misdemeanor (vehicle collision with personal injury)
  • Enhanced fine of up to $100 in addition to existing moving violation fines
  • If a driver receives a traffic violation while distracted, the driver may be required to complete a one-hour distracted driving course. The violator will also be subject to paying the total amount of the fine established by the violation and a submit a written form stating the driver (you) completed the distracted driving course.

However, this law does permit drivers to make phone calls or use items in partnership with hands free devices or Bluetooth®.

In 2017, the Ohio DOT reported that 13,997 collisions, with 55 fatalities, 4,688 drivers in injury-causing crashes, with a total of 6,988 injuries, happened due to drivers being distracted by something within their vehicles. The Ohio House Bill 95 was voted through as a state-wide initiative after having success in the City of Columbus where this law has been in place for the past few years. DPS believes the Ohio House Bill 95 will be an effective tool for law enforcement and will be a good deterrent to drivers.

Read Ohio House Bill 95 here

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