COLUMBUS, Ohio — In an effort to reduce the number of accidents caused by distracted driving, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has signed a new law prohibiting the use of cellphones while driving. Senate Bill 288, which was signed into law today, allows law enforcement agencies to treat distracted driving as a primary offense.
Under the new law, drivers are not allowed to use, hold, or physically support a cellphone while operating a vehicle. This includes activities such as texting, making phone calls, or using social media. Those who violate the law may face fines, with the amount increasing for repeat offenses. A first offense carries a fine of $150, a second offense is $250, and a third offense within two years is $500.
“Signing this bill today is a great honor because this legislation will, without a doubt, prevent crashes and save lives,” said Governor DeWine. “Right now, too many people are willing to risk their lives while behind the wheel to get a look at their phones. My hope is that this legislation will prompt a cultural shift around distracted driving that normalizes the fact that distracted driving is dangerous, irresponsible, and just as deadly as driving drunk.”
The new law will go into effect within 90 days of its signing.
According to the Ohio Highway Patrol, there have been 73,945 crashes linked to distracted driving in the state since 2017, and in 2022 alone, 31 fatal crashes were caused by distracted drivers. The hope is that the new law will encourage drivers to keep their focus on the task of driving and improve safety on the roads.
“My prayer is that this law will save lives. We can do nothing to bring our Maria back, but we are determined to keep other families from going through the nightmare of losing a child or a loved one on our roadways,” said Dom Tiberi, sports anchor for WBNS 10-TV and founder along with his wife, Terri, of the Maria Tiberi Foundation named in honor of their late daughter, Maria, who was killed in a distracted driving accident. The foundation encourages defensive driving and educates about the dangers of distracted driving.
Ohio is now among nearly two dozen states to implement a hands-free law.