Ohio on Friday, June 1, became the 39th state to prohibit texting behind the wheel by all drivers after Gov. John Kasich signed a new law that prohibits text messaging while driving.
“I commend Governor Kasich and the Ohio legislature for taking an important stand against the dangers of texting while driving today,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “While this new law will help keep all drivers safe, we are especially encouraged by its focus on young drivers, who are more likely to engage in distracted driving.”
The law takes effect 90 days after signing, and warnings will be issued to offenders for the first six months. After that period, texting will become a secondary offense for adults and a primary offense for those under age 18. Adult violators will face a fine of up to $150, while teens who violate the law will be subjected to a $150 fine and have their license suspended for 60 days. Teens who are repeat offenders will be fined $300 and have their license suspended for a year.
Ohio and 38 other states, the District of Columbia, Guam and the Virgin Islands ban text messaging by all drivers. Ten states, the District of Columbia, Guam and the Virgin Islands prohibit all handheld cell phone use while driving.
“We are making a difference in the fight against distracted driving through a combination of good laws, tough and consistent enforcement, and extensive public education,” said David Strickland, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Ohio is sending a strong message that it wants its young drivers to be distraction-free.”
The 11 states that have yet to ban text messaging by all drivers are Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas.