DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Drivers in Ohio need to be aware of a major change. If you aren’t aware, you could be left to pay a fine or be subject to alternative penalties.

Starting Thursday, Oct. 5, anything other than a simple swipe to answer your phone can leave you with a $150 fine and two points on your license for the first offense.

“If you’re found guilty each time, after that, the level just goes up, the amount of fines goes up, the amount of points on your license goes up,” says Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck.

The fines increase to $250 and three points on your license for the second offense. A $500 fine, a three-point penalty and a 90-day license suspension are punishments for being caught a third time. 

Streck insists that even with the six-month grace period, many people are still using their phones.

“You see it all the time. You still see people who are on your cell phone. You know, whether they’re they’re looking at it, they’re talking into it. There’s a lot of people out there right now that are still, as of right now, violating the law,” said Streck.

With the new law, anything other than quickly swiping to answer a traditional call can cost you. You can quickly check your phone at a red light or if you are stopped in traffic, but even that is illegal if you’re under 18.

According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the new law is already dropping the number of distracted driving crashes.

“If you look at 2022 year to date and then compare it to the issue, we’re down about 19 percent,” said OSP Sgt. Tyler Ross.

Ross says that while it is progress, it’s not enough. OSP is hopeful that with the new law in effect, putting down the phone and driving safely will be top of mind for most drivers.