Texting While Driving Law In Effect Friday

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Friday’s the day using cellphones when you’re behind the wheel could land you a fine or even a license suspension. Texting while driving is now illegal under the Ohio Revised Code.

Students on campus said they didn’t think texting was an offense worthy of legal action.

 “I think it’s kind of an over-reaching of power,” Ohio University student Miranda Lawhon said.     

The new law has two components: one section for people over 18 years old and one for juveniles.

 “There are exceptions for contacting law enforcement, emergency services… but essentially if you have to enter text into an object with your fingers you’re probably in violation in some fashion,” Athens Police Captain Ralph Harvey said.

For adults, it’s a secondary offense – meaning you have to be pulled over for something else first, but could be sited with an additional minor misdemeanor charge if you are caught typing on a cellphone while driving. For juveniles it’s a primary offense and no electronic devices of any kind may be used on the road. The code says violations of the law means at least a $150 fine and up to a one-year license suspension for juveniles.

The exact provisions of the law have caused some confusion. Police said even typing text into a GPS system could be a violation of the law.

“What does texting and driving really mean? Is that using your phone? In what kind of way?” OU student Sean Langsan asked.

Harvey said officers can’t stop adult drivers just for texting and driving, but could stop someone for lane violations or reckless operation and add a texting while driving charge to the ticket. The captain recommends pulling off the road to type on a phone.

Harvey said, “What I’m hoping will happen with this law is… people will become more cognizant of the fact that texting while driving is dangerous and a bad distraction while you’re driving.”

View the full text of the law for people over 18 years old and for juveniles online.