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New Legislation To Help Reduce Ohio Distracted Driving Accidents Would Increased Penalty
As Ohio Distracted Driving Accidents Increase New Bill Looks To Deter Drivers From Taking Their Eyes Off The Road.
As Ohio car accident attorneys are seeing more victims of distracted driving accidents, Ohio lawmakers are continuing their push to toughen the state’s distracted driving laws. The new legislation would increase the penalty for drivers who are not focused solely on the road. House Bill 95 would create distracted driving as an enhanced penalty for existing moving violations. Under the bill, a police officer can cite a driver for distracted driving if the officer witnesses the offense during the commission of an already existing moving violation.
House Bill 95 would require drivers to pay a $100 fine for each offense. However, the proposed law does not make distracted driving a primary offense. It also would not add points to a person’s driver’s license and would not go on that person’s driving record.
State Representatives Jim Hughes (R-Upper Arlington) and Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) introduced the legislation in March. The enhanced penalty for distracted driving will “help provide a deterrent to this reckless and dangerous activity,” according to Rep. Hughes, who supported legislation when he was in the Senate to designate September as “Safe Driving Awareness” month.
House Bill 95 joins other pending legislation that targets distracted driving offenses. House Bill 88 seeks to make texting while driving a primary offense. The proposal would also prohibit using wireless devices in construction zones and in school zones where children are present. In addition, House Bill 86 would make distracted driving a secondary crime if the driver also commits a moving violation or a vehicular homicide offense at the same time as the distracted driving offense.
Ohio’s texting while driving ban went into effect in 2013. For adult drivers, texting while driving is a misdemeanor offense that carries a fine of up to $150. Drivers 18 years old and under caught texting or using any handheld electronic wireless communications device will pay a $150 fine and have their license suspended for 60 days for the first offense and a one-year suspension for subsequent offenses. Texting while driving is a secondary offense for adults, which means police cannot stop adult drivers solely for texting but for a primary offense such as speeding. Texting while driving is a primary offense for teenage drivers.
Distracted driving is any activity that takes a person’s attention away from driving, such as texting, talking on the phone, eating, grooming, using navigational systems and other in-vehicle technologies, according to Distraction.gov. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says sending or reading a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for 5 seconds. Driving distracted at a speed of 55 mph is like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.