Could Ohio's New Distracted Driving Law Affect Your Car Accident Case? | Kisling, Nestico & Redick
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Senate Bill 288 now makes it a primary offense to use a handheld device behind the wheel, regardless of age.
Written by
KNR Legal
Date posted
March 8, 2023

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine recently signed a new law to prevent distracted driving. Senate Bill 288 now makes it a primary offense to use a handheld device behind the wheel, regardless of age. Former laws made it a primary offense for juvenile drivers but a secondary offense for drivers over 18.

The change intends to keep motorists of all ages from using their devices and focus on the road ahead.

However, as a driver in Ohio, you should know the details of Senate Bill 288, its impact on road safety, and how it could affect a potential car accident case.

Overview of Ohio’s Distracted Driving Law

Ohio’s new distracted driving law states that you cannot use an electronic wireless communication device while operating a vehicle. It will officially come into effect in April 2023.

This law, a provision to Senate Bill 288, makes texting while driving a primary offense. A primary offense means an officer can immediately pull you over if they witness a violation. They do not need another reason to pull you over as they would for a secondary offense.

Those who violate this new law are guilty of a minor misdemeanor. Your first offense carries up to $150 in fines, two points on your record, and a 60-day license suspension—unless you complete a distracted driving safety course. Penalties are more significant for repeat offenders.

Exceptions to Senate Bill 288

Ohio drivers may still use their cell phones in certain situations, such as:

  • While parked or stopped at a red light
  • During an emergency (to contact law enforcement, a hospital or health care provider, a fire department, etc.)
  • Swiping the phone to answer a call
  • Holding the phone to their ear during phone conversations
  • For navigation purposes
  • If the device is hands-free, voice-operated, or otherwise built into the vehicle’s functions

Does Senate Bill 288 Make Roads Safer?

With the new provision, Ohio lawmakers hope to see a decrease in statewide distracted driving cases. Other states have experienced fewer fatal crashes after implementing similar laws.

Although not every car wreck is caused by distracted driving, it remains a leading cause of traffic accidents and a factor behind many traffic fatalities.

Since 2018, there have been over 61,000 crashes caused by driver inattention in Ohio. Nearly 1,800 of them resulted in fatalities or severe injuries.

Distracted driving is often seen as a “teenage” issue. While young adults ages 15-20 are most likely to drive distracted, the problem can affect anyone. Ohio State Highway Patrol data shows that from 2018 to 2023, roughly 61% of distracted driving crashes involved people above 24.

Under Ohio’s new law, adult drivers can also expect stricter punishments for texting behind the wheel. The goal is to reduce this behavior across all age groups and prevent more crashes.

Senate Bill 288 Can Affect Car Accident Cases

If a distracted driver injures you, their penalties may be greater under this new law. But does that impact a civil case for damages and your insurance claim?

Regardless of whether you were hurt by a distracted driver obtaining compensation after a car accident can be complicated. An experienced personal injury lawyer can represent you, explain your options under the new law, and help you fight for maximum compensation.

After an accident caused by distracted driving, your best option to recover financially is likely still filing a claim or lawsuit. If the offending driver was cited for distracted driving, this strengthens your argument and helps establish fault. Your attorney can point to the following if distracted driving applies to your case:

  • Observations noted in the police report
  • Footage from nearby traffic and surveillance cameras
  • Audio or video from the scene
  • Witness testimony
  • Your testimony
  • Cell phone records

This evidence can help establish negligence and prove a driver was texting behind the wheel. From there, your attorney can prove that the distracted driver should be liable for your damages and injuries. The other driver might have a record of distracted driving under the law’s enforcement. Your lawyer can use these details to prove the severity of your distracted driving accident and advocate for your full recovery.

Hurt in a Car? Call KNR.

Ohio’s new distracted driving law reflects the belief that texting while driving is serious and should be taken seriously. Hopefully, more significant penalties will deter drivers and keep everyone safer.

But if a distracted driver causes your accident and you’re injured, the law can help support your argument for the compensation you deserve. An Ohio personal injury attorney at Kisling, Nestico, & Redick can help you determine the best course of action after a distracted driving crash and guide you through the process. Our team can maximize your recovery as we have for thousands of Ohio injury victims.

Call KNR today at 1-800-HURT-NOW or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.