Distracted driving laws in Ohio just got tougher. On December 27, 2022, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 288, a sweeping criminal reform bill that includes harsher penalties for drivers using their phones.
Here’s what you need to know about Ohio’s new laws regarding using your phone while driving.
What is the Gist of the New Law?
This law allows Ohio police to pull over any driver they see using, holding, or supporting a phone while driving. With this law, drivers can be cited for using phones while driving to perform common functions like:
Checking social media
Searching for information
The goal is to deter drivers from using their phones while driving in an effort to end distracted driving and save lives.
In 2022 alone, distracted driving contributed to at least 31 fatal crashes and 258 crashes with serious injuries in Ohio, according to the Ohio Highway Patrol.
How is This Different From the Previous Law?
Before SB 288, police could only pull over teens under 18 years old for texting while driving.
Is It Still Legal to Use a Phone While Driving in Ohio?
Under the new Ohio driving laws, you can still technically use your phone while driving, so long as your attention can remain on the road. For example, you can:
Place a call with speakerphone.
Use a phone while stopped on the side of the road because of an emergency.
Use your phone for navigation, as long as the destination is entered before driving and the phone is mounted.
Use a single touch or swipe (to ignore a call or end a call, for example).
When Do Ohio’s New Driving Laws Go Into Effect?
Ohio’s new driving laws go into effect in April 2023. However, for the first six months, officers are only allowed to issue warnings. By October, the law will be in full effect, with enforceable penalties.
What are the New Penalties for Phone Use While Driving?
This law also outlines new penalties for using a phone while driving in Ohio:
First offense: a fine of up to $150 plus two points on your license
Second offense (within two years): a fine of up to $250 plus three points on your license
Third offense (within two years): a fine of up to $500, four points on your license, and a 90-day driver's license suspension
Is There Any Way to Avoid the Penalties?
First-time offenders can avoid the penalties by completing a state-approved defensive driving course.
Tips to Help You Avoid Distracted Driving
If your phone is creating a distraction while you’re driving, consider the following tips:
Set your phone to Do Not Disturb. This will prevent notifications from popping up and fighting for your attention.
Make sure you have everything you need from your phone before putting the car in drive. Do you know where you’re going and how to get there? Do you have your playlist or podcast queued up?
If you don’t need your phone for navigation, keep it out of sight and out of reach. You may even want to toss it in the trunk if you’re tempted to reach for it while it’s in the car.
Do You Need a Safety Refresher Course?
If it’s been a while since driver’s ed, consider getting an update on the rules of the road with an affordable, online defensive driving course. You’ll be able to catch up on Ohio’s changing driving laws and learn techniques to make you a safer driver.
Enroll in your Ohio Defensive Driving Course today!