Ohio lawmakers want to fine distracted drivers $100

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — A bill has cleared the Ohio House that would crack down on distracted driving.

The bill would allow officers to ticket drivers for talking on the phone while driving. Drivers who used a hands-free device or put the phone on speaker would not receive a ticket.

State Representatives Jim Hughes (R-Upper Arlington) and Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) recently introduced legislation that would create an enhanced penalty to be applied to existing moving violations.

Inspired from previous efforts to bring attention to the dangers of distracted driving, Rep. Hughes worked in coordination with the Ohio Department of Public Safety to draft legislation to create this enhanced penalty, which would not add points to an individual’s driver’s license and would not go on their driving record. The person would be required to pay a $100 fine for each offense.

“The enhanced penalty for distracted driving as proposed in House Bill 95 will help provide a deterrent to this reckless and dangerous activity,” said Rep. Hughes. “Ultimately, the goal is to save lives by making our roadways safer.”

Ohio State Highway Patrol reported nearly 14,000 crashes in 2016 involved distracted driving.

The bill also specifies that an officer can only cite someone for “distracted driving” if they witness the offense during the commission of an already existing moving violation.

During the 130th General Assembly, Rep. Hughes, then in the Senate, championed legislation to designate September as “Safe Driving Awareness” month to bring attention to the dangers of driving on the road distracted.

The bill passed by a 71-10.  State Representative Niraj Antani voted against the bill.

“I think that’s government overreach and I think it’s too expansive of something that people have been doing for decades to criminalize,” Antani said.

The bill still need to be approved by the Ohio Senate and signed by the governor to become law.

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