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New law attempts to decrease distracted driving in Ohio

It's no secret that the Buckeye State needs to reduce distracted driving. In the last couple of years, the number of pedestrian deaths in Ohio continuously increased to the point where 2017 gave us the most fatalities in the decade. 2018 does not look to be faring well either. Many of these accidents were the result of motorists not paying attention to the road in front of them.

Recently, the state chose to pass House Bill 95 to reduce the number of distracted drivers in the state. This new law came into effect last Monday on October 29. It is important to be aware of this new law and what it does so you are aware of the potential penalties you could face in a distracted driving accusation.

What does it do?

The new law allows for additional charges for someone convicted of distraction driving. The driver now must pay an additional $100 fine with the violation fee. If they do not want to pay that amount, they can also enroll in a distracted driving safety course and submit it to the court.

It also broadens the definition of distracted driving. While the court can still charge the driver for using a cell phone, they can convict the motorist for "any activity that is not necessary for the vehicle's operation and that impairs... the driver's ability to drive safely." These could include activities such as eating, drinking, putting on make-up or changing the radio station. The only excluded actions are wearing earphones (which is a separate violation) or using a phone for emergency purposes.

Advantages and disadvantages

On one hand, it is beneficial to see the state acknowledge that there are other forms of distracted driving aside from cell phone usage. The more drivers that are aware of this, the less we see of people driving with one hand while eating a messy burger in the other. More motorists should focus solely on the roads if we want to reduce the state's pedestrian fatality rate.

On the other hand, broadening the definition means that there is a high chance that the police will pull you over for something you were not doing. They have to prove that you were distracted, and it does not just involve having a cell phone in your hand anymore. If you have loud music, a bag of food or something in your car that could use while driving, they can mistakenly assume you were using it while behind the wheel. A criminal defense attorney may be required to help you reduce or eliminate any pending charges.

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