New “texting” while driving law
With the passing of House Bill 99, which became effective August 31, 2012, “Ohio Revised Code sections 4511.204 and 4511.205 prohibit driving a vehicle while writing, sending or reading a text-based communication on a handheld electronic wireless communications device and to establish the violation as a secondary traffic offense (which means an officer has to have another reason to stop you). However it prohibits a person who is less than 18 years of age from using, in any manner, an electronic wireless communication device while driving and to establish the violation as a primary offense” (which means an officer can stop you if you are under 18 years of age and are observed using any electronic wireless communications device).
What this new law means is if you are an adult driver 18 years of age or older it is illegal to use a handheld electronic wireless communication device to write, send or read a text while driving in Ohio. This is a secondary offense which means a law enforcement officer cannot stop and ticket a driver for the sole offense of using a handheld electronic wireless communication device if you are 18 years or older.
This law also means if you are a driver under the age of 18, it is illegal to use ANY electronic wireless communication device while driving. For drivers under the age of 18, this is a primary offense, which means a law enforcement officer can stop and ticket a driver for the sole purpose of using ANY electronic wireless communication device. Electronic wireless communication device is defines as a computer, laptop, tablet, personal digital assistant (PDA), text-messaging device, wireless telephone, or any other substantially similar wireless device that is designed or used to communicate text. For drivers under the age of 18, this law prohibits the following while driving a vehicle: texting, emailing, talking on your cellular phone, bluetooth, On-Star, computers, laptops or tablets, playing video games or using your GPS (unless it’s voice operated or a hands free device) even when you are sitting at a light or stuck in traffic.
Under limited circumstances you may use an electronic wireless communication device for:
- Emergency purposes when contacting a law enforcement agency, hospital or health care provider, fire department or other similar emergency agencies.
- If the motor vehicle is in a stationary position and outside a lane of travel
- For navigation purposes when using a voice operated or hands free device.
Click here for Lordstown Police Department (external link)