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Distracted driving is now illegal in Ohio

driving with a cell phone
Melissa M. Joen

Gov. Mike DeWine has signed into law a measure he pushed for last year that would crack down on distracted driving, including texting, reading or watching videos behind the wheel. It's part of a bill with a lot of changes to state laws on crime.

The bill bans drivers from holding cellphones while driving and makes that an offense for which they can be pulled over. But Ohio State Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Charles Jones says law enforcement won’t write a ticket unless they’re certain a violation was committed.

"If they're not sure, then the stop doesn't take place and the citation doesn't happen," he said.

There are exceptions, including using navigation, as long as the driver isn’t holding the phone or typing. The bill has a lot of criminal justice provisions, including making strangulation a felony — Ohio is the only state where it’s a misdemeanor. And it sets up child abuse and dating violence education in schools.

Contact Karen at 614/578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.