December 14, 2018

Ohio Implements Stronger "Distracted Driving" Laws

by Holly Cline, The Tyack Law Firm Co., LPA

Effective Oct. 29, House Bill 95–in an attempt to deter and punish “distracted driving”–enhances the penalties for moving violations that occur as a result of "distracted driving."

The new legislation also provides that law enforcement officers no longer will need to prove a driver is texting, but only that a moving violation has occurred and that the driver was distracted at the time.

In addition to existing fines, HB 95 requires enhanced financial penalties or the completion of a distracted driver course for drivers who commit moving violations while distracted. For example, a driver operating a vehicle outside marked lanes who is also engaging in a distracted behavior will face an enhanced fine of up to $100 in addition to a fine for the lane violation. Other violations–such as running a red light, stop sign, speeding or other moving violations–similarly would result in potentially higher fines.

The Ohio Department of Public Safety was tasked with creating a distracted driver course for offenders who plead guilty or are convicted of a specific traffic violation while distracted. This course is available in lieu of paying the enhanced court fine of $100 or less, so long as the offender pays the total amount of the fine established by the violation and submits written evidence of completion of the distracted driver course.