Phones Down: New Distracted Driving Law Enforcement Begins Oct. 5

Hilliard police officer writes citation

It’s time to crack down on texting, scrolling, and swiping while driving.

City of Hilliard Division of Police officers are reminding residents that beginning Oct. 5, 2023, officers can pull over a vehicle if they see the driver using or holding a cell phone.

Penalties

  • 1st offense in two years: 2 points assessed to driver’s license, up to a $150 fine.*
  • 2nd offense in two years: 3 points assessed to license, up to a $250 fine.
  • 3rd or more offense in two years: 4 points assessed to license, up to a $500 fine, possible 90-day suspension of driver license.
  • Fines doubled if the violation occurs in a work zone.

 * Completion of a distracted driving course can help avoid the fine and points.

The law change is an effort to save lives. Every year thousands of people die from distracted driving, most alarmingly, texting and driving. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.

Drivers over 18 years old can make or receive calls via hands-free devices, including:

  • Speakerphone
  • Earpiece
  • Wireless headset
  • Electronic watch
  • Connecting phone to vehicle

In most cases, anything more than a single touch or swipe is against the law.

This new law allows drivers over 18 to make or receive phone calls using “hands-free” technology such as Bluetooth or integrated systems within the vehicle, as long as you don’t hold or support the device or manually enter letters, numbers, or symbols. If you must physically manipulate your device, you should pull over to a safe location and park your car before handling.

Exceptions include: 

  • Drivers reporting an emergency to law enforcement, a hospital, health care provider, fire department, or similar emergency entity.
  • Drivers holding a phone to their ear only during phone conversations if the call is started or stopped with a single touch or swipe.
  • Drivers holding or using cell phones and other electronic devices while stopped at a traffic light or parked on a road or highway during an emergency or road closure.
  • First responders (law enforcement, fire, EMS), using electronic devices as part of their official duties. 
  • Utility workers operating utility vehicles in certain emergency or outage situations. 
  • Licensed operators using an amateur radio.
  • Commercial truck drivers using a mobile data terminal.

Learn more: https://www.transportation.ohio.gov/phonesdown

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