The measure, however, did not succeed without controversy. The Senate heavily amended the original House proposal, limiting most enforcement to secondary status. The House went along, and House Bill 99 was sent to Gov. John Kasich, who indicated he would sign it.
The law goes into effect 90 days after Kasich’s approval. A warning period will begin at that time, with ticketing on hold for six months. The fine is $150.
Ohio most likely will take its place as the 39th state to ban texting while driving.
The Senate’s other major change to the legislation was a full ban on use of handheld electronic communications devices by drivers under the age of 18. Enforcement for teens does carry primary enforcement, with fines up to $300 and possible loss of license.
The secondary enforcement provision for adults means that police need another reason to stop and cite violators, such as weaving or speeding. Police will have to make an on-site determination if a driver appears to be under the age of 18 before making a stop.
State Reps. Rex Damschroder, R-Sandusky County, and Nancy Garland, D-New Albany, spearheaded the legislation.
Ohio’s General Assembly almost certainly has not concluded its debates over distracted driving. Similar laws passed in other states typically inspire bills calling for primary enforcement. And the new measure does not address cell phone use by adults, unless they are using the device to text.
The new law allows for stricter local laws. Cleveland, Toledo, Columbus, Delaware, Belpre, Berea and Zanesville are among the many Ohio cities that already banned texting & driving.
Cleveland is considering a ban on use of handheld cell phones by drivers.
The county that includes Cleveland (Cuyahoga) has been particularly hard hit by distracted driving accidents.