During a typical commute, it is not uncommon to see other drivers texting, putting on makeup, talking on a phone, playing air guitar, shaving, or some other form of distracted behavior. We all are guilty of some form of this; however, a little-known law just went into effect in Ohio that is cracking down on such behavior.
Ohio House Bill 95 went into effect October 29, 2018. This law enhances moving violations where law enforcement officers determine: (1) an offense occurred; (2) the driver was distracted at the time; and (3) this distraction was a contributing factor to the offense. If the officer determines this, then you can expect an additional $100 on your citation or a seat in a distracted driver safety course.
“Distracted” is defined as “engaging in any activity that is not necessary to the operation of a vehicle and impairs, or reasonably would be expected to impair, the ability of the operator to drive the vehicle safely.” That’s pretty broad, so let’s look at how the Ohio State Highway Patrol defined distracted driving in a Traffic Safety Bulletin from last year: “Distractions include: texting or talking on a cellphone, talking to passengers, eating, adjusting the radio, using a navigation system, etc.”
It is time for an example. You are cruising down the street eating a cheeseburger and you switch lanes without using your turn signal. An officer pulls you over and he sees the ketchup on the corner of your mouth plus the empty whopper wrapper next you on the passenger seat. Using superior Sherlock Holmes like deduction, the officer is going to determine that you were distracted when you failed to use your turn signal and is going to tack on an extra $100 on your citation. So that $1.99 Whopper now costs you $101.99 or lost time out of your life taking a distracted driver safety course. For your pocketbook, and the safety of all of us, it’s probably best to wait to dig into that whopper.
This information is intended to provide broad, general information about the law and is not intended to be legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from a licensed attorney. For further information, please contact Jesse Bowman at the law office of Alexander, Wagner & Kinman (513) 228-1100 or Jesse@AWKLegal.com.
Attorney Jesse Bowman