Distracted driving in Ohio is estimated to have been responsible for nearly 14,000 motor vehicle accidents in the state in 2017. Distracted driving is not texting and driving. Distracted driving is any activity that diverts the driver’s attention, including talking on a cell phone or applying makeup. In an effort to reduce those numbers, Ohio has passed a new law allowing law enforcement to ticket drivers for distracted driving if the officer believes that it has contributed to the primary offense leading to the stop.
“Offenses like these are considered “secondary”, which means that drivers can only be cited for the violation if they have been stopped for a primary offense, like speeding or reckless driving,” said Charles Boyk, of the Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC. Hence, an officer cannot stop and ticket a driver solely because of distracted driving.
No one has opposed the passage or implementation of this new law, but many believe that it will not have the effect that is hoped for: a reduction in the number of distracted driving accidents. Since the offense is only secondary, law enforcement will be unable to pull individuals over for being distracted alone; there will need to be some other event that triggers the stop. It will not do much for highway safety if drivers can only be ticketed for distracted driving after an accident occurs.
These laws are important but also need to be properly applied. Drivers need to be aware of the applicability of these laws and when they can be ticketed. Police officers are not allowed to stop drivers strictly for the purpose of ticketing for distracted driving. Additionally, drivers that are written secondary tickets for distracted driving should be certain that the citing officer properly documents why he or she believes that the driver has violated the law.
Distracted driving tickets, like texting and driving tickets, require officers to use their judgment as to when they believe a person’s use of a phone or application of makeup led to the offense for which the person was stopped. If you have been cited for distracted driving in conjunction with another ticket, consult with an experienced Ohio Traffic Offense Attorney to ensure that the citation is supported by evidence.