CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine was joined by two state senators on Thursday to introduce legislation that would increase the consequences for drivers caught using handheld wireless devices.
If passed, the hands-free proposal pitched by Sens. Stephanie Kunze and Sean O’Brien would make using a smartphone a primary offense for drivers in Ohio, meaning law enforcement could stop drivers caught using a device without observing any other traffic violations.
Punishments for drivers who violate the distracted driving proposal would increase.
- First violation - Mandatory $150 fine
- Second violation - $250 fine
- Three or more violations - $500 fine and a possible license suspension
“The use of wireless devices while driving has become so common that many drivers don’t stop to consider the deadly consequences,” said DeWine. “Although Ohio’s current laws are well-intended, they simply haven’t gone far enough to change the culture around using technology behind the wheel. By strengthening Ohio’s laws, we believe we can change behaviors, prevent crashes, and save lives.”
Individuals and family members impacted by distracted driving shared their impactful stories during Thursday’s announcement.
The OSHP says smartphone use while driving is believed to be a major factor in the increase of fatal crashes over the past several years. Data from the OSHP shows that 2019 was the second-deadliest year for traffic fatalities in the past decade.
Several communities in Northeast Ohio, including Lakewood, have already enacted a distracted driving ban.