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Texting While Driving Now Banned In Ohio

Kentucky passed a ban on texting while driving in July, 2010 and was revised and made into a primary offense in July, 2011.  Ohio's new law goes into effect on Friday, August 31, 2012. Ohio's law makes it a primary offense for any teenager to text while operating a motor vehicle.  It is considered as a secondary offense if the driver is 18 years of age or older. The difference between a primary offense and a secondary offense is quite simple, however complicated to state.  As a primary offense, the police have the right to stop you for that offense.  Therefore, if a driver is seen texting by a police officer, they can pull the person over if that person is under 18 years of age.  As a secondary offense, it is not grounds to stop the vehicle unless there is some other traffic violation.  If the person is stopped for another violation (speeding, careless driving, suspected DUI, improper plates, etc), then they can also be cited for texting while driving. Under the law texting also includes sending or reading emails, using computer, laptop or tablet, playing video games.  Interestingly, if the driver is under 18 years old, the ban also makes it illegal to use a GPS (unless pre-programmed and handsfree) or to talk on a cellphone, Bluetooth, OnStar or any similar device, even if it is handsfree. The penalties include $150 fine and 60 day license suspension if the person is under 18 years of age for a first offense, and $300 fine and 1 year license suspension for second/subsequent offense.  If the operator is an adult, it is a minor misdemeanor punishable by up to $150 fine. The impact of the primary v. secondary offense is significant if the person is later charged with DUI/OVI.  If you were stopped in Ohio and the only basis for the stop was texting, it may be possible to have the stop and subsequent arrest suppressed.  Anyone charged with OVI or DUI should consult with an attorney. If you have been charged with a traffic offense or any crime, find out your rights.  For a consultation, contact Michael W. Bouldin at 859-581-6453 or email at mwbouldin@fuse.net.  Michael Bouldin is licensed as an attorney in both Ohio and Kentucky and regularly practices in Boone, Kenton, and Campbell counties in Kentucky and  Cincinnati in Hamilton County, Ohio

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