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Msg 4 U: Texting Ban Starts Today in Lakewood

For kids under 18, even talking on cell phones while driving will be illegal.

Ohio's new law banning texting while driving goes into effect today. That means motorists cannot send or read text messages from behind the wheel.

Lakewood officials are considering changes to the city's current "full attention" ordinance — requiring Lakewood drivers to keep their full attention on the road.

Kevin Butler, the city's law director, said that city council will likely consider an ordinance in the coming weeks that would "mirror the state code."

With a few possible additions.

The state measure already takes things a step further for drivers under 18: They can't talk on a cell phone at all, even with Bluetooth or other hands-free methods.

"I am confident that this one small step will have a great impact as we work toward safer roadways," said State Sen. Tom Patton, R-24, who supported the legislation.

No one will get ticketed just yet. There's a six-month grace period built into the law, and police will issue warnings until next March 1.

But "texting" doesn't just mean thumbing in messages. It applies to reading, too — even checking your email. 

"It is important to note that 'texting' includes writing, sending, and reading any text-based communication including instant messages and emails, as well as traditional mobile-to-mobile texts," Patton said in a news release. 

According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, here's what the ban means:

If you're under age 18:

It is illegal to use any electronic wireless communications device while driving in Ohio. 

This means:

• No texting
• No e-mailing
• No talking on your cell phone, Bluetooth, Bluetooth speakers, On-Star or any similar device
• No computers, laptops or tablets
• No playing video games
• No using your GPS (unless it's a voice-operated or hands-free device that has been pre-programmed)

The ban stays in place even when you are sitting at a light or stuck in traffic.

It's a Primary Offense:  Law enforcement can stop you for any of the above reasons. 

For first violations, the fine is $150 and the offender's driver's license is suspended for 60 days.

After that, fine is $300 and licenses are suspended for a year.

The only exceptions are for vehicles in a stationary position and outside a lane of travel; and emergency calls to law enforcement, hospital, fire department, etc.

Adult drivers (18 or older):

It is illegal to use a handheld electronic wireless communications device to write, send or read a text while driving in Ohio.

It is a secondary offense, meaning adults cannot be pulled over for texting or reading their email while driving. 

The offense is a minor misdemeanor, which carries a fine up to $150.

Ruth August 31, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Personally, my car has hands-free and it was so distracting I turned it off. Would rather hold my phone to my ear if I needed it or not use it at all which is the best idea. But there have been times when I have been lost and needed my phone to help with directions and times when traveling somewhere with more than one car and had to tell the other person I had to pull off for some reason and was glad to have my phone use.
Sandy September 01, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Using cell phones period should be banned. I've had a couple people talking on their cell phones practically mow me down - fortunately I was aware of them and their unawareness because of their concentration on their conversation. Ban all cell phone use on the road. They can always pull over and call back the caller.
Stephanie Wykof September 01, 2012 at 08:36 AM
totally agree... i think its stupid that they are not banning people from talkin and driving. the whole gps thing is kinda stupid...most are voice operated whether cell or gps itself. as far as textin agree but i talkin is just as dangerous.. when i drive to work i see alot of people driving slow or delayed with reaction because they are so focused on a conversation.. its not safe.
Hol September 01, 2012 at 10:21 PM
I cannot tell you how many times I've been behind some idiot doing something with the cell phone where they are holding it up to their eyes and consequently not watching the road. The weave all over the place and it's very scary to be near. I've honked my horn many a time only to be flipped off. But when they kill someone or injury themselves or passengers....they will be sorry. I'm glad this is going into affect now. It's long overdue.
Patch reader September 08, 2012 at 12:43 AM
I totally agree. This law should have been passed YEARS ago. It is a known fact that texting behind the wheel is twice as dangerous as drunk driving. "The State Highway Patrol said 31,000 crashes in Ohio and 74 deaths over the past three years have been blamed on distracted drivers."

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