DeWine to sign bill to combat distracted driving in Ohio

Senate Bill 288 will allow people to be stopped by the police solely for holding or using a cellphone while driving.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine will sign his name on a piece of legislation that, in part, will make distracted driving a primary offense in Ohio.

Senate Bill 288 will allow people to be stopped by the police solely for holding or using a cellphone while driving. It specifically will prohibit drivers from “using, holding, or physically supporting” a cellphone.

The legislature comes with some exceptions, such as if they are stopped at a red light, using a speakerphone function without holding the phone, or holding phones to their ears for calls but not using texting or typing functions.

From 2013 to 2019, more than 91,000 distracted driving crashes occurred in the state, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol. The crashes resulted in 47,000 injuries and 305 deaths.

DeWine will sign the bill on Tuesday and will be joined by two of the bill’s co-sponsors, State Sen. Stephanie Kunze and State Rep. Cindy Abrams.

Ohio State Highway Patrol Superintendent Colonel Charles Jones and 10TV Sports Anchor Dom Tiberi will also be in attendance.

Earlier this year, Dom testified in support of the legislation. Dom lost his 21-year-old daughter, Maria, in a distracted driving crash on Sept. 17, 2013.

Since then, the Tiberis and their 10TV family have been on a mission to teach young drivers about the dangers of distracted driving.

Maria’s Message was created and Dom has delivered her message to 150 schools throughout Ohio.

Dom has led the charge in teaching high school students – some just about to get their license – what an important responsibility driving is.

Maria Tiberi Foundation Simulator Labs have been installed at Tolles Career and Technical Center and Eastland Career Center. A third simulator lab is in the process of being installed at the Fort Hayes career center.

The bill, which received bipartisan support, also will let inmates earn more time off prison sentences, make it easier to keep some criminal records out of the public eye, decriminalize fentanyl test strips, make strangulation a separate offense, outlaw fertility fraud by doctors, and mandate age-appropriate education about child sexual abuse prevention in schools, among other changes.

To view the complete legislation, click here.

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