Young woman texting while driving a car

Texting/Distracted Driving Laws in Ohio

Diehl & Hubbell, LLC Feb. 6, 2024

Distracted driving is a major cause of crashes, injuries, and deaths among teenagers. In fact, teens are especially vulnerable because of their age, their inexperience, and the fact that they're still learning the rules of the road.  

This makes them more likely than other drivers to get distracted. As such, it’s especially important for parents to be aware of the dangers of distracted driving and how to keep their teens safe when driving. 

According to a study from the Pew Research Center, almost half of crashes and near-crashes involving drivers younger than 21 are caused by driver distraction.  

Of course, this goes both ways, as we’ve all been guilty of the occasional phone call or text message while driving. Now is the time to get serious about the potential dangers of distracted driving. 

This is why it’s so important to learn how to drive safely. So to better prepare you and your family, let’s discuss the dangers of distracted driving and what you can do to avoid it. 

Understanding Ohio's Distracted Driving Laws

In Ohio, distracted driving is taken very seriously. The state has implemented strict laws to discourage drivers from engaging in any activity that could divert their attention from the road.  

Ohio's distracted driving laws are detailed in Section 4511.204 of the Ohio Revised Code. Key aspects of these laws include: 

  • It's illegal to use or hold a cell phone or electronic device in your hand, lap, or other parts of your body while driving on Ohio roads. 

  • Anything more than a single touch or swipe on a device is against the law. 

  • Drivers over 18 years old can make or receive calls via hands-free devices, including a speakerphone, earpiece, wireless headset, electronic watch, or by connecting the phone to the vehicle. 

  • Drivers under the age of 18 are restricted from using their devices in any way, even hands-free features like talk-to-text or voice commands. 

Exceptions to the Law

However, there is some gray area to these laws. For example, if you're reporting an emergency to law enforcement, a hospital, a health care provider, a fire department, or similar emergency entity, you are exempt from the laws. In addition, drivers of commercial vehicles can use their devices for work-related purposes.  

Other exceptions include: 

  • Drivers may hold a phone to their ear only for phone conversations, provided the call is initiated or ended with a single touch or swipe. 

  • Drivers are permitted to hold or use cell phones and other electronic devices while stopped at a traffic light or parked during an emergency or road closure. 

  • First responders (law enforcement, fire, EMS) are allowed to use electronic devices as part of their official duties. 

  • Utility workers are authorized to operate utility vehicles in specific emergency or outage situations. 

These exceptions may factor into personal injury cases. Say a driver is on the phone with their doctor about their child's health emergency, and they end up rear-ending someone and giving another driver whiplash. Although it could be considered distracted driving, the driver was reporting a medical emergency which may help diminish their amount of liability. 

Penalties for Distracted Driving

The penalties for distracted driving in Ohio can be severe. They range from points on your driver's license to suspension of driving privileges. If the accident caused someone else's injury, you may also face criminal charges and civil lawsuits. It's crucial to know these laws to avoid these penalties and, more importantly, to keep yourself and others safe on the road. 

You Can Get Pulled Over for Distracted Driving 

You’re liable to receive a fine for distracted driving if you’re pulled over for using your phone. The police have the power to fine people for this offense, and you could face expensive court costs if you’re found guilty. 

Distracted Driving Is Proven Deadly 

One of the biggest reasons why distracted driving is a serious concern is that it can lead to deadly car accidents. Every year, approximately 3,000 people die as a result of these accidents.  

In a world where technology has the potential to reduce these deaths, it’s shocking to see that technology is actually making the situation worse. What’s more, the number of these deaths is expected to rise. 

How to Avoid the Dangers of Distracted Driving

The most important tip you can take to avoid the dangers of distracted driving is to be aware of them. Remember that every time you pull out your phone, you’re risking your life and the lives of others.  

It’s also important to be aware of how distraction can affect your driving. Constantly fiddling with your phone can mean that you don’t pay attention to the road ahead. This is dangerous and could lead to an accident. 

It can also be stressful to navigate life while driving, especially if it’s your job or a long commute. You don’t have to be constantly on your phone, and you don’t have to feel like you have to respond to every social media post.  

Instead, be mindful of your time on the road, and try to make the most of it by making attentive driving your number one priority. 

If you or a loved one was injured as a result of another driver’s negligence, don’t delay in getting the legal representation you deserve. Contact Diehl & Hubbell, LLC today. 

How We Can Help

If you've been involved in an accident caused by distracted driving, we're here to help. Our team at Diehl & Hubbell, LLC has extensive experience handling cases involving distracted driving accidents throughout Southwestern Ohio. 

We understand the ins and outs of Ohio's distracted driving laws and can guide you through the legal process. Our goal is to advocate for your rights and work tirelessly to secure the compensation you deserve. 

Remember, understanding the law is just the first step; knowing what to do if it affects you is equally important. If you need legal representation or simply have questions about Ohio's distracted driving laws, don't hesitate to reach out to us. Your safety and your rights are our top priority. 

Hurt in an Accident? We Can Help.

If you've been involved in a car accident caused by distracted driving, you have the right to explore your legal options for compensation. At Diehl & Hubbell, LLC, we've handled numerous texting-while-driving cases throughout the state. 

We know how to prove fault and fight for your rights in court. Our experienced attorneys will work tirelessly to help you get the justice and compensation you deserve. Remember, it's not just about understanding the law; it's about what you do if it affects you. If you need legal representation or simply have questions about Ohio's distracted driving laws, don't hesitate to reach out to us. Your safety and your rights are our top priority.