Texting ban poses police challenge

Adult drivers can’t be stopped just because they’re texting.

Lt. Dustin White of the Clark County sheriff’s office said he believes the ban will be difficult to enforce. For example, in the event of a crash, a witness would be needed in order for a person to be charged with texting while driving. Despite the difficulty in enforcing it, White said, he believes the ban will stop some people.

“I think there’s some positives that can come out of it,” he said.

White said the ban is a good idea because it will curb distracted drivers. He said most crashes in the county are a result of drivers not paying attention.

Lt. Tom Zawada of the Springfield Police Division also said he thinks the ban is a good idea, but he doesn’t think the ban itself will stop drivers from texting. He said it will be difficult to enforce mostly because it is a secondary offense, meaning officers will need another reason to charge a person, such as running a red light. He said it should instead be used as a tool in addition to education to help prevent distracted driving.

“I believe the ban in addition to educational material will be required,” Zawada said.

The Ohio Fraternal Order of Police supports the legislation. The group’s president, Jay McDonald, said the organization would have preferred texting to be a primary offense for drivers of all ages because it would be easier to enforce.

Ohio is the 39th state to prohibit texting while driving, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. The ban, which will take effect Aug. 30, will make texting with handheld devices a secondary offense for adults.

For the first six months the ban is in place, officers will not be able to issue tickets or citations. Afterward, adults can be fined up to $150 for typing emails or instant messages.

The ban is stricter on drivers under the age of 18. Teenagers are not allowed to use electronic devices while driving.

Texting or using an electronic device is a first offense for minors, who can be fined up to $150 and have their licenses suspended for 60 days. Repeat offenders can be fined $300 and have their licenses taken away for a year.

Contact this reporter at (937) 328-0262 or andrew.mundhenk@ coxinc.com. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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