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Is Texting and Driving Illegal in Ohio?

An electronic wireless communications device is one of the modern technologies that people worldwide love using. However, cell phones are one of the most common causes of distracted driving and fatal crashes. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that distracted driving causes approximately nine deaths and injures around 1,000 people every day nationwide.

Using handheld wireless communication devices is one of the primary causes of distracted driving, and rightfully so. People are constantly scrolling through various feeds, opening Facebook, or checking texts.

Due to this, many states, including Columbus, have started to enact texting-specific Ohio distracted driving laws. These laws allow a law enforcement officer or Ohio State Highway Patrol to issue a ticket for distracted driving. Still, if a person was injured in a car accident because the other driver was on their phone, they have the option to pursue compensation through a personal injury claim.

An auto accident lawyer in Columbus can help clients that have been in the unfortunate event where distracted driving has caused injuries. The Keating Law Firm LTD has been around for over a decade by maintaining a solid attorney-client relationship; it can provide victims with all the information they require and a free consultation.

Does Ohio Allow Cell Phone Use While Driving?

Does Ohio Allow Cell Phone Use While Driving?

In most cases, an individual could be ticketed if caught texting and driving. However, the ban on texting while driving has some exceptions.

Below are the texting while driving ban exceptions that should be noted when drivers are traveling on the road.

Teens in Ohio Cannot Use an Electronic Wireless Communications Device While Driving

While operating a vehicle, all drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using cell phones. More specifically, any minor driving on a provisionary driver's license cannot drive while using portable electronic devices, including a laptop computer, a computer tablet, or cell phones.

However, there are some exceptions. Teenagers can use a cell phone to contact emergency services or police officers through a hands-free device or if their car is parked outside of traffic flow.

Teens Can Be Ticketed

Police can pull over adolescents if they suspect the driver is driving and using a cell phone unlawfully. If ticketed, the teenager will lose their driving privilege for 60 days and be issued a $150 fine.

In the case, the teen is a juvenile traffic offender, and this is their secondary offense, the texting and driving consequences are a one-year license suspension and a $300 fine. Even though distracted driving is a minor misdemeanor, it could increase insurance rates and still appear on the person's driving record.

Texting Is Illegal in Ohio for Adult Violators Too

Ohio's distracted driving laws state that it is unlawful for adults to drive in Ohio cities while using a cell phone for any text-based communication. This does not include voice-operated features, hands-free, or cell phone use in an emergency.

Adult Penalties for Distracted Driving

The texting laws set out in Ohio are secondary laws. That means an adult driver cannot be pulled over for breaking the texting laws, and instead, the police officer must notice another violation initially.

An example of this is if the driver weaves out of their lane, the officer can pull the person over. Then, the police can issue them with a ticket for using the cellphone unlawfully. There is a fine of $150 given to adult violators, and in 2018 a new law was added that includes an extra $100 fine for committing a moving violation while distracted driving.

In some cases, if the violator attends a distracted driving education course, the additional $100 fine is waived.

Distracted Driving Education Course

When distracted drivers cause an Ohio texting offense using a personal digital assistant or a cell phone, they need to educate themselves about the driving law in the state. A texting violation is taken very seriously by Ohio law because distracted drivers cause loads of problems for local police.

That is why it is recommended that young drivers take an education course, to make them aware of what is required from them while on the road. It is also a way of showing their insurance company that they know the limitations of handheld devices while driving.

The Ohio Department wants to eliminate driver distraction and decrease motor vehicle accidents by enforcing these laws plus educating its citizens.

Ohio Cities Have Other Distracted Driving Laws

Ohio's cities and counties are also free to enact their own driving and wireless telephone rules. Besides being hands-free while driving, most regions have banned using a cell phone or a text messaging device. Some laws supersede the secondary enforcement practice areas, so people should know that before texting and driving in Ohio.

These driving laws allow police to ticket for the use of cell phones without the requirement of an additional offense. In order to stay safe and within the law while driving, motorists must look up the local cell phone use laws in the areas they are traveling through.

The Problem with Distracted Driving

Even though using a handheld device and driving a car may seem like a bright idea at the time, a person's brain cannot do either very well when attempted simultaneously. According to the National Safety Council, there is no safe way to use a handheld device while driving. Due to being engaged in a phone conversation, a driver can miss half of what's happening on the road, even if they use a hands-free device.

Below is listed the likeliness of a crash occurring through some of the most common distractions experienced by drivers using a handheld. The National Safety Council completed this list, and a study found that these actions can cause serious injuries.

  • Reading text messages while driving increases a person's risk by 3.4 times

  • Turning around in their seat or reaching for a moving object increases an individual's risk by 8.8 times

  • Talking on a cellphone increases the driver's risk by four times

  • The risk of crashing is increased up to 23 times if an individual is driving and texts

It's clear to see that texting and driving have the highest probability of causing an accident compared to the other violations mentioned above. The fact remains that 10% of all drivers are talking or texting on their cell phones at any given time.

That number is much more significant for teen violators. According to AAA, nearly 65% of teens confessed to talking on a cellphone while driving in the last 30 days, while 45% in this age group have read an email or text message in that same period.

80% of teens don't think their distracted driving puts them at risk, while 94% of them keep their cell phones on them while driving. Luckily, cell phone use is definitive, meaning a distracted driver can do something to keep them safe on the road.

Ohio Distracted Driving Statistics

Ohio Distracted Driving Statistics

Since 2013, Ohio texting laws have required police officers to know what caused the crash. This is also prevalent for car insurance companies as some won't pay out if the person was the cause of the accident.

Vehicular traffic accidents, including texting while driving violations, may still go underreported, as law enforcement are more likely to code a violation to something proven, such as crossing lanes without indicating or speeding.

According to the education department, severe distracted driving cases doubled between 2016 and 2017. This is a massive cause for concern, and rightfully so.

With that being said, other crashes resulting from distraction, like blowing past a stop sign, jumping a red light, or driving well over the speed limit, can be caused by using a cell phone. In 2015, more than 12,000 drivers in Ohio were involved in accidents due to distractions caused by phone calls or texting.

The above statistics resulted in 6,900 injuries and 43 deaths, which could have been avoided if the novice drivers had noticed the road more. An Ohio statewide ban is strictly enforced for a reason, and if someone is involved in such a case, the best thing to do would be to seek legal representation.

Here are some other facts about drivers driving distracted in Ohio:

  • 36% of serious injuries or fatigued driving deaths involved a young driver, while 60 % of these incidents occur during roadway departure

  • Individuals between the ages of 16 and 20 had the most severe injuries and driving deaths, with those ages 21 to 25 following

  • Men are the most commonly distracted drivers

  • Most distracted driving deaths occur during summer, with peak periods during certain times of the day

  • More crashes happened between 2 and 5 pm, with distracted driving increasing between 1 pm and 2 am

  • Driving between 55 and 65 mph miles has caused most injuries and deaths

These facts should scare any motorist into following the laws of the road not only for their safety but for the safety of others.


With the specific information provided in this piece, people can understand the details required for car crashes involving distraction. Anyone who experienced the consequences of such an event is urged to contact Keating Law Firm LTD for a free consultation. The legal team can also provide information regarding other automobile laws such as sleeping in a car and brake checking.

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