What you can and cannot do with Ohio’s new distracting driving law

DAYTON — Ohio’s new distracting driving law will take effect Tuesday morning after Governor DeWine signed it back in January.

>>Law restricting use of phones while driving goes into effect Tuesday; What to know

News Center 7′s John Bedell spoke with drivers to get their understanding of the “dos and don’ts” of the law and the changes to avoid getting a ticket.

Texting while driving has been illegal for years here in Ohio. But there is a big change that could cost you big bucks.

Starting Tuesday, distracted driving is a primary offense, meaning police can pull you over just for being on your phone behind the wheel in situations.

>>Questions raised on new law restricting use of phones while driving

Bedell conducted an informal poll of Miami Valley drivers Monday and asked them about Ohio’s new, upgraded distracted driving law.

“Do you know what’s in it? What you can and cannot do starting (Tuesday) tomorrow?” he asked people

“No, I’m not familiar with it,” answered Jerry Rinck of Spring Valley.

Jandi Birt said she did not know that under the law, you are allowed to talk on your phone while driving if you’re using phone or holding the phone to your ear for a call.

“Yeah, I did not know that,” she said.

>>PREVIOUS COVERAGE: DeWine signs bill restricting Ohioans from using phones while driving

Bedell said there are other exceptions:

  • You can make an emergency call to first responders or a hospital
  • It’s okay to use a phone while you are stopped on the side of the road, at a red light or because of emergency or road closure
  • You are allowed to use GPS as long as you are not trying in a destination or holding your phone
  • You can use a single swipe or touch to pickup or end a call

>> WATCH: State trooper nearly hit by suspected distracted driver

“Basically what I know, you get me on the phone and be distracted and, you know, playing on your phone, and texting or texting,” said Vogel.

Bedell said Vogel correctly answered under the law you cannot text, check social media or stream videos. Any of that while you are driving could get you pulled over.

“We want to caution drivers that you can’t do a lot of the things that you’ve done before,” said Stephen Carmin, Chief of the Bellbrook Police Department. “And again, it’s looking out for your safety.”

He told Bedell his officers will start enforcing the new law Tuesday and believes it will save lives.

Birt was one of the drivers News Center 7 spoke with who told us she hopes that holds true.

“As long as it’s being enforced, yes, I think it’ll make a big difference,” she said.

>>PREVIOUS: Ohio lawmakers continue push to expand law against distracted driving

Bedell says for the next six months, law enforcement can only issue warnings. But after that grace period, starting in October, violations can lead to fines, anywhere from $150 to $500, even points on your license.

Just this year, troopers have handed out more than 1,900 tickets for distracted driving, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

There have been more than 1,700 crashes related to distracted driving. 45 people suffered serious injuries and two people died.

39% of those crashes involved drivers between 15 and 24-years old.

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