Drivers can be ticketed for texting starting Friday, March 1

By Art Hunter

Enforcement of Ohio’s ban on texting while driving will change Friday, March 1.

While texting while driving has been banned for the past six months, troopers and police officers have been issuing warnings to violators. As of Friday, the law will have some teeth.

For adults, texting while driving will be a secondary offense, which means that to be ticketed for it, they will have to be pulled over for another offense. Violators can be fined $150.

But drivers 18-years and younger can be pulled over and ticketed for texting behind the wheel. For a first offense, drivers 18 and under face a $150 fine and a six-month license suspension. These sanctions double for a second offense.

“This is something that is extremely dangerous,” Lt. Brian Rhodes of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said of texting behind the wheel. “It divides the driver’s attention.”

Lt. Rhodes said that to drive safely, drivers must keep their eyes on traffic, checking their mirrors, at all times. Any other activity thrown into the mix, such as hair combing, talking, eating, and other bad habits, including phone use, that drivers have takes away their attention from the roadway.

“We recommend that if drivers feel they must text, they pull off the roadway to a place of safety, such as a gas station,” Lt. Rhodes said. He said that the sides of the road, or breakdown lanes, are not the safest places to stop to send a text.