CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - If you're 16 or 17 years old you're not allowed to use your cell phone at all when you're driving. For those ages 18 and up, you're allowed to talk but nothing else. The first offense will cost a $150 fine and possible license suspension for 60 days. The second offense will cost $300 and up to a one year suspension.
"We will enforce the law as it's written and we will, if we see a violation, and opportunity allows us to go forward with that violation, we'll do so", says Capt. Russ Neville, the Commander of Cincinnati Police District #3. Common sense says police have to see you using your cell phone and they'll be looking at drivers a lot closer now. "They need to focus on the operation of the vehicle, and they need to be more aware of their surroundings including the police."
Charlie Rubenstein's office prosecutes misdemeanors in Cincinnati and says it's not just texting. "That primarily prohibits reading, sending, manipulating, do text-based things not just text messages, but as well as checking the Internet, your email, etc., while you're driving a car." He says the most common way a driver may get caught is because they're clearly distracted. "Quite often an officer will first see a vehicle weaving on the roadway and not keeping in their lane because they're not paying attention to the road, they're paying attention to the text message," he said.
If you get caught do you have a defense? Greg Cohen is a defense attorney and says adults might have an argument in court, "If the officer sees me with my cell phone in my hand and I'm punching something, I may be dialing something or I may be texting, so he or she can't really stop the motorist," Cohen says. However, since juveniles aren't even allowed to make calls or use their phones at all, he says it will be hard to defend. "With respect to juveniles, there's really no defense because the way the law now reads the use of any device by a juvenile while driving is an offense."
Police will be giving warnings until March 1 of next year but after that, no more warnings. It only applies in Ohio and it does not matter if you live in the state or not, you're still required to know the law.