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Msg 4 U: Texting Ban Starts Today (POLL)

We want to hear from North Canton Patch readers: How will this change your driving habits?

Ohio's new law banning texting while driving takes effect today, prohibiting anyone from sending or reading messages from behind the wheel.

The measure takes things a step further for drivers under 18: They can't talk on a cell phone at all, even with Bluetooth or other hands-free methods.

"I am confident that this one small step will have a great impact as we work toward safer roadways," said State Sen. Tom Patton, R-24, who supported the legislation.

No one will get ticketed just yet. There's a six-month grace period built into the law, and police will issue warnings until March 1.

But "texting" doesn't just mean thumbing in messages. It applies to reading, too — even checking your email. 

"It is important to note that 'texting' includes writing, sending, and reading any text-based communication including instant messages and emails, as well as traditional mobile-to-mobile texts," Patton said in a news release. 

According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, here's what the ban means:

If you're under age 18:

It is illegal to use any electronic wireless communications device while driving in Ohio. 

This means:

• No texting
• No e-mailing
• No talking on your cell phone, Bluetooth, Bluetooth speakers, On-Star or any similar device
• No computers, laptops or tablets
• No playing video games
• No using your GPS (unless it's a voice-operated or hands-free device that has been pre-programmed)

The ban stays in place even when you are sitting at a light or stuck in traffic.

It's a Primary Offense:  Law enforcement can stop you for any of the above reasons. 

For first violations, the fine is $150 and the offender's driver's license is suspended for 60 days.

After that, fine is $300 and licenses are suspended for a year.

The only exceptions are for vehicles in a stationary position and outside a lane of travel; and emergency calls to law enforcement, hospital, fire department, etc.

Adult drivers (18 or older):

It is illegal to use a handheld electronic wireless communications device to write, send or read a text while driving in Ohio.

It is a secondary offense, meaning adults cannot be pulled over for texting or reading their email while driving. 

The offense is a minor misdemeanor, which carries a fine up to $150.

Joe Rozsa August 31, 2012 at 02:47 PM
I think this law is long overdue. All you have to do is travel on 77 at rush hour to see that it makes perfect sense. I use a hands free device to talk on the phone, I pull over to text or email. Nothing is that important that it can't wait.
Chris August 31, 2012 at 03:04 PM
I agree with all parts except the GPS part. That's how I get from one place to another. I do understand the hands free or voice part being a better alternative though

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