Yesterday, the Ohio House of Representatives passed House Bill 99, legislation that would ban texting while driving, in an 88-10 vote. According to the text of the Bill, it "prohibits a person from driving a motor vehicle, trackless trolley, or streetcar on any street, highway, or property open to the public for vehicular traffic while using an electronic wireless communications device to write, send, or read a textbased communication." The bill further defines ʺelectronic wireless communications deviceʺ to include a wireless telephones, text-messaging devices, PDA's, computers, and "any other substantially similar wireless device that is designed or used to communicate text."
Offenders would be guilty of a minor misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $150 fine. The Bill includes a six-month grace period, during which officers would issue warnings to drivers that are caught texting. Further, the Bill creates exceptions for law enforcement or emergency responders, those individuals texting while vehicles are parked, and GPS devices.
More than 30 other states and the District of Columbia have comparable bans on texting while driving. The Bill will now move to the Ohio Senate for further consideration; the House passed similar legislation in its last session, but that bill stalled in the Senate.