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Ohio's electronic communication ban seeks to curb car accidents

On June 1, 2012, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed a law into effect aimed at reducing car accidents by banning the use of electronic communication devices while driving. Known as House Bill 99, the law went into effect Aug. 31, 2012. Currently, it is illegal for any person under 18 years of age to use an electronic wireless communications device in any capacity while they are behind the wheel.

The bill goes to great lengths to specify each form of prohibited activity. For example, minors are not allowed to text, email or talk on cellphones while driving. Also prohibited is the use by minors of a Bluetooth devices, laptops, tablets or video games. GPS devices are allowed only if they are voice operated or otherwise hands-free devices. Under the law, adult drivers are banned from texting while driving

It is important for Ohio motorists to know that any violation of the law is considered a primary offense. This means that law enforcement officials can initiate traffic stops based solely on seeing someone violating the law.

The penalties associated with the law are fairly substantial. First-time minor offenders will receive $150 fine and have their driver license suspended for 60 days. Any subsequent violations by a minor will result in a $300 fine and a driver license suspension for up to one year. Adult drivers can face being charged with a minor misdemeanor and find up to $150.

Safety officials with the United States Department of Transportation say that texting and driving is one of the most dangerous driving distractions because it forces an individual to take their eyes off the road. According to an AT&T poll, roughly 50 percent of teens interviewed for that survey admitted to texting while driving.

Ohio motorists have a right not to be injured by a distracted driver. If you have been hurt because of a preventable car accident, you may be entitled to sue the individual responsible for your injuries. In some cases, you may be able to recover the costs related to treating your injuries and perhaps even work-related income you may have missed out on because of the accident.

Source: Bureau of Motor Vehicles, "Ohio Law Bans Texting While Driving" Nov. 20, 2014

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