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Ohio Texting Ban Begins Today

For kids under 18, even talking on cell phones while driving will be illegal

Ohio's new law banning texting while driving takes effect Aug.31, prohibiting anyone from sending or reading messages from behind the wheel.

The statewide measure takes things a step further for drivers under 18: They can't talk on a cell phone at all, even with Bluetooth or other hands-free methods.

"I am confident that this one small step will have a great impact as we work toward safer roadways," said State Sen. Tom Patton, R-24, who supported the legislation.

is the same for all drivers and prohibits any use of electronic devices except with hands-free or voice-acivated devices. 

So in our city, you could be ticketed for holding a phone to your ear or picking it up at all while you're behind the wheel.

 Chief Mark Sechrist said that he believes the state law is not clear enough and that the same restrictions on using electronic devices behind the wheel should apply to everyone.

No one will get ticketed under the Ohio law just yet. There's a six-month grace period built into the law, and police will issue warnings until next March 1.

But "texting" doesn't just mean thumbing in messages. It applies to reading, too -- even checking your email.

"It is important to note that 'texting' includes writing, sending, and reading any text-based communication including instant messages and emails, as well as traditional mobile-to-mobile texts," Patton said in a news release. 

According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, here's what the ban means:

If you're under age 18:

It is illegal to use any electronic wireless communications device while driving in Ohio. 

This means:

• No texting
• No e-mailing
• No talking on your cell phone, Bluetooth, Bluetooth speakers, On-Star or any similar device
• No computers, laptops or tablets
• No playing video games
• No using your GPS (unless it's a voice-operated or hands-free device that has been pre-programmed)

The ban stays in place even when you are sitting at a light or stuck in traffic.

It's a Primary Offense:  Law enforcement can stop you for any of the above reasons. 

For first violations, the fine is $150 and the offender's driver's license is suspended for 60 days.

After that, fine is $300 and licenses are suspended for a year.

The only exceptions are for vehicles in a stationary position and outside a lane of travel; and emergency calls to law enforcement, hospital, fire department, etc.

Adult drivers (18 or older):

It is illegal to use a handheld electronic wireless communications device to write, send or read a text while driving in Ohio.

It is a secondary offense, meaning adults cannot be pulled over for texting or reading their email while driving. 

The offense is a minor misdemeanor, which carries a fine up to $150.

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