Criminal Defense Topics

What Does The New Texting And Driving Law Mean?

Recently, Governor Kasich signed a texting while driving ban into law.  This new law is codified under Ohio Revised Code section 4511.204, and for those under 18 with a temporary permit or a probationary license, section 4511.205 applies.  This is the first in a series of articles outlining what is prohibited and permitted under these new laws.

Ohio Revised Code section 4511.204

‘Section 4511.204 makes is a minor misdemeanor to write, send, or read a text-based communication while driving.  There are some exceptions and limitations to this law.  One limitation is that this is a “secondary” offense.  That means that a police officer is not permitted to stop a vehicle for the sole purpose of determining whether the driver is texting, even if the officer observes what appears to be a violation of the law.  The officer must have some other legitimate reason to stop the vehicle.

This state-wide ban does not, however, prohibit municipal ordinances that prescribe penalties that are greater than those provided by section 4511.204.  This means that the City of Columbus is permitted to enact an ordinance that makes it a more serious offense, even to the extent of authorizing Columbus Police officers to stop drivers solely on the basis of texting while driving.

Section 4511.205 also prohibits texting while driving, but applies to those under 18 years old that have a temporary instruction permit and those with probationary driver’s licenses.  There are a number of differences between sections 4511.204 and 4511.205.  For instance, section 4511.205 is a “primary” offense, which means that an officer is allowed to stop a driver for the sole purpose of issuing a ticket for texting while driving.  The penalties for a violation of section 4511.205 are also greater because a first offense carries a mandatory 60 day driver’s license suspension, and a second offense carries a mandatory one year driver’s license suspension and an increased fine.

Texting While Driving Attorneys

If you have questions about the new texting while driving law, feel free to contact one of our experienced attorneys.

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