Is it Illegal to Be on Your Phone While Driving in Ohio? | KNR
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One of the most common ways drivers are distracted is by using cell phones. We are constantly checking texts, Facebook, or scrolling through various feeds. As a result, many states have enacted texting-specific driving laws, including Ohio.
Written by
KNR Legal
Date posted
October 31, 2023

Distracted driving is a significant problem in Ohio and across the country. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 1,000 people are injured and approximately nine are killed in crashes with distracted drivers every day.

One of the most common ways drivers are distracted is by using cell phones. We are constantly checking texts, Facebook, or scrolling through various feeds. As a result, many states have enacted texting-specific driving laws, including Ohio.

These laws allow law enforcement to issue tickets for distracted driving, but if you were injured in a car accident because someone was on their phone, you also have the option to pursue compensation through a personal injury claim. An Ohio car accident attorney with Kisling, Nestico & Redick can explain your rights and help you recover what you deserve.

Call us at 1-800-HURT-NOW today for a free, no-obligation consult.

Does Ohio Allow Cell Phone Use While Driving?

In most situations, it is unlawful for you to text and drive, and you could be ticketed. However, there are also some exceptions to the ban on texting while driving.

Ohio’s Distracted Driving Law

Texting while driving became a primary offense in Ohio in 2023. If police officers suspect a driver is using a phone while driving, they can pull that driver over. Drivers cannot use or hold a phone in their hands, laps, or other body parts while driving.

Drivers can use their phone if they are using “hands-free” technology, like Bluetooth or other systems that integrate your phone with your car. Actions must be completed in one touch or swipe; if whatever you’re doing takes more than one touch, you should pull over and park before using your phone.

Off-Limit Actions While Driving

The new driving law excludes more than just texting. Drivers cannot use their phones while in motion if they are trying to:

  • Dial a phone number
  • Browse social media
  • Make video calls
  • Browse the internet
  • Watch Videos
  • Play games
  • Stream videos

Teens in Ohio Cannot Use Phones While Driving

Ohio Revised Code §4511.205 prohibits drivers under 18 from using cell phones while operating a vehicle. More specifically, any minor driving on a temporary permit or a probationary driver’s license cannot drive while using an electronic wireless communications device, including cell phones, tablets, or laptops.

It’s important to note that teens cannot use devices, even those with hands-free features.

Teens Can be Ticketed

The police can pull over any adolescent they suspect of unlawfully using a phone while driving. If ticketed, the teen will be fined $150 and lose their driving privileges for 60 days. A teen could become a juvenile traffic offender after their second offense. They’d face different consequences: a $300 fine and a one-year license suspension.

Adult Penalties for Using Phones

Adults stopped for driving while using electronic devices can face penalties. The more offenses a driver accrues, the steeper the punishments become.

  • First Offense in Two Years: Two points assessed to a driver’s license. A fine up to $150.
  • Second Offense in Two Years: Three points assessed to a driver’s license. A fine up to $250.
  • Third or Subsequent Offense in Two years: Four points assessed to a license. A fine up to $250. Possible 90-day license suspension.

It’s important to note these fines can be doubled if the offense happens in a work zone.

Exceptions to the Ohio’s Phone Law

There are times when using a cell phone is acceptable when driving other than just with hands-free technology. Drivers are permitted to use phones to report emergencies to authorities, while traffic is stopped, or if they’re using them for their official duties.

It should be noted that a driver can hold a phone during a call if the call was started with a single touch or swipe.

How Do Ohio’s Updated Phone Laws Affect Personal Injury Cases?

Distracted drivers can cause significant damage to other drivers or pedestrians. Recovering those damages after an injury accident can be challenging, even if you think your case is easy to prove.

You should be calling a personal injury lawyer as quickly as possible. They can investigate your accident and help you secure valuable evidence that can support your claim.

A distracted driver might argue they weren’t using their phone illegally at the time of your accident, or that you were partially responsible for your injuries. This is where your attorney can step in to help.

They can secure a copy of the police report and any statements from the at-fault driver indicating they were using their phone illegally. Your attorney may also be able to secure any data that shows the phone was in use in a way that doesn’t meet the phone law’s exemptions.

A car accident lawyer will review your case and help you determine the best approach in your personal injury claim.

Hurt by a Distracted Driver? Contact KNR

If you were in a collision where the other driver was unlawfully on their cell phone, you should speak with an experienced attorney at Kisling, Nestico & Redick. If the other driver was distracted and at-fault for the crash, we will gather evidence of that driver’s liability to support your claim for compensation.

Our offices are conveniently located throughout Ohio, including in Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland. As one of the largest personal injury firms in the state, we have the experience to make sure your rights are respected.

To learn more about your options after a distracted driving accident, call KNR today at 1-800-HURT-NOW for a free consultation. We don’t earn a fee unless you recover.