COLUMBUS – Effective October 29, House Bill 95 becomes law and enacts a significant distracted driving deterrent and an effective tool for law enforcement to enforce dangerous driving. House Bill 95 establishes Ohio’s unique approach of combating distracted driving by enhancing existing moving violations. For example, law enforcement officers no longer will need to prove a driver is texting, but only that a moving violation has occurred and the driver was distracted at the time.
The law requires an enhanced financial penalty in addition to existing fines or alternatively the completion of a distracted driver course, for drivers who commit a specific traffic violation while distracted. For example, a driver operating a vehicle outside marked lanes who is also engaging in a distracted behavior, will face an enhanced fine of up to $100 in addition to a fine for the lane violation. Other violations such as red light, stop sign, speeding, and other moving violations similarly would result in potentially higher fines.
The Ohio Department of Public Safety was tasked with creating a distracted driver course for offenders who plead guilty or are convicted of a specific traffic violation while distracted. This course is available in lieu of paying the enhanced court fine of $100 or less, providing the offender pays the total amount of the fine established by the violation and submits written evidence of completion of the distracted driver course.
The one-hour course discusses what distracted driving is, who is a distracted driver, cell phone distractions, the risks and consequences of driving distracted, and combating distracted driving.
The distracted driver course is available as of October 29, 2018 and can be found on the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle’s Driver Training website (https://www.drivertraining.ohio.gov).