What Ohio's texting law means to you

6:40 PM, Mar 1, 2013   |    comments
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Sure you've heard about Ohio's statewide ban on texting while driving, but there's more to it than that. The new law isn't just aimed at busy thumbs behind the wheel, the rules have many other components that differ greatly based on the age of the driver.

For those 18 and older, the new law bans the use of a handheld electronic wireless communications device to write, send or read text while driving. Doing so is considered a secondary offense, which means law enforcement can't stop drivers without another reason.

READ the new law

Violations for adult drivers are considered a misdemeanor with a possible fine up to $150.

Although banned from texting, drivers 18 and older are still permitted to read, select and enter a name or phone number while driving to make/receive a call.

Photos: Understanding Ohio's texting while driving ban

But for drivers under the age of 18, the rules are much tighter. Ranked as primary offenses, law enforcement can now stop minor drivers for any of the following actions committed behind the wheel -- even while stopped at a light:

- Talking on a phone, including via Bluetooth, Bluetooth speakers, On-Star or any similar device (unless making an emergency call to police, hospital, fire department, etc.).

- Writing, sending or reading text messages.

- Playing video games.

- Using a GPS (unless it's voice-operated or hands free).

- Using a computer, laptop or tablet.

A first-time violation for minors carries a $150 fine and a 60-day license suspension. Additional offenses carry a $300 fine and a possible one-year license suspension.

According to the law, an electronic wireless communications device includes any of the following:

- A wireless telephone.

- A text-messaging device.

- A personal digital assistant.

- A computer, including a laptop and tablet.

- Any other susbstantially similar wireless device that is designed or used to communicate text.


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