Under legislation passed Wednesday by the Republican-led Ohio House, drivers could be pulled over for using or holding a cellphone while driving.
To crack down on distracted driving, the bill would increase penalties for texting while driving as well as impose stricter restrictions on how someone can use a cellphone while driving.
Ohio law currently bans texting while driving. However, drivers can hold their phones and press buttons on the screens to make calls. With some exceptions, the proposal would ban drivers from “using or supporting” such devices.
Violations would be considered a primary offense and not a second offense . This means that a police officer can issue a ticket for the violation without having to give another reason to stop a driver.
Republican Rep. Bill Seitz proposed the addition of the exceptions regarding devices at stoplights and held to the ear to receive calls. He said that people “dot see through their ears but their eyes” and compared it to listening to radio while driving.
Democrats challenged the amendments, claiming that what was passed didn’t go far enough or isn’t truly “hands-free”.
The Bill analysts noted that Ohio’s current law is “still silent” regarding new phone usages that have become part of daily life since the pandemic. Current law does not include instruction on how to livestream or record video.
Next, the bill will be sent to the Senate. Matt Huffman, Republican Senate President, said that he was against the bill but would vote for it if other Republican legislators overwhelmingly support it.
Republican Governor. Mike DeWine supported the legislation. Dan Tierney, his spokesperson, stated that the House’s passage of the bill was a “great leap forward” in saving more lives and making Ohio roads safer.