Ohio begins enforcement of texting while driving law - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Ohio begins enforcement of texting while driving law

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CANFIELD, Ohio - The grace period is over and texting while driving becomes illegal in Ohio as of Friday.

Billboards by Triple A are reminding motorists not to text and drive. A six month grace period, during which drivers were only to be issued warnings, ends on Friday.

The law makes texting a minor misdemeanor and secondary offense for adults, much like Ohio's seat belt law.

"Like the seat belt law, we can't just pull someone over for a seat belt violation. We have to have another offense," said Ohio State Patrol Sergeant Brit Henderson.

For adults, the law only applies to texting, not talking. But for novice and teenage drivers Henderson says it is much stricter.

"If you're under 18, you can't use any type of electronic device. You can't talk on the phone, you can't text, you can't even program your GPS. You can have a GPS, but it has to be programmed. You can't touch it while you're driving," Henderson said.

For underage drivers it is a primary offense, meaning no other offense is needed to be pulled over and cited. Plus the penalties for minors are significant.

A first offense will cost you $150 dollars in fines and a 60-day drivers' license suspension. Any additional violations are $300 and a one year license suspension.

Law enforcement hopes it will be a strong deterent for younger drivers.

Sergeant Henderson says just reading a text takes your eyes off the road. "It only takes a second, a split second, for something to come in front of you, whether it's a vehicle an animal or a person," Henderson said.

Triple A hopes the stricter ban on texting will eventually be applied to all drivers.

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