DeWine on Thursday threw his weight behind new legislation that would ban the use of hand-held wireless devices — cell phones and other electronics — while driving and give police the power to pull over motorists for violations.
“Distracted driving hurts and kills innocent people. It devastates families,” said DeWine, while standing with more than 10 Ohioans who have lost loved ones in traffic crashes — the governor included.
Under the Hands-Free Ohio Bill, motorists would be prohibited from watching videos, taking photos or videos, texting, talking, dialing, typing addresses into mapping apps, or nearly any other hands-on function.
Drivers would be required to use hands-free technology or accomplish the task — such as punching a destination address into a GPS app — while stopped and out of traffic lanes.
Violators would face mandatory fines starting at $150 for the first offense, $250 for the second and $500, plus license suspension, for the third offense. In cases where someone is seriously injured or killed, motorists would be charged with aggravated vehicular assault, which is a felony, said state Sen. Stephanie Kunze, R-Hilliard, a bill sponsor.
The bill would allow for limited exceptions, such as calling 911. Drivers would still be permitted to use phones in hands-free mode to talk or dictate texts or listen to received messages.