COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Sweeping criminal justice legislation signed Tuesday by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine will allow police to stop people solely for holding a cellphone while driving, with certain exceptions.
“This bill is about a lot more than pulling people over and handing out tickets,” DeWine said. “It’s about changing the culture around distracted driving, and normalizing the fact that distracted driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving.”
The proposal would prohibit drivers from “using, holding, or physically supporting” a cellphone, with some exceptions, such as if they are stopped at a red light, using a speakerphone function without holding the phone, or holding a phone to their ears for a call but not using texting or typing functions.
DeWine previously said the distracted-driving measure would spare many families from losing a loved one. The DeWines lost their daughter Becky to a car accident in 1993.
State lawmakers also included a provision to throw out the statute of limitations for attempted aggravated murder. The bill’s sponsor has said that change is in response to a recent Ohio Supreme Court ruling that the timeline for charging defendants with this crime runs out six years after it was committed.
DeWine also has signed a separate bill that creates the felony offense of swatting — when someone knowingly reports a false emergency that prompts response by law enforcement, such as a kidnapping, school shooting or other violent crimes.