CLEVELAND (WJW) – Drivers are just a few short weeks away from having to adapt to a new law that makes distracted driving a primary offense, meaning you can and will be pulled over.
“What we’re trying to do is curb the fatalities and distracted driving in the state of Ohio,” Brunswick Hills Police Chief Tim Sopkovich said. “A lot of it has to do with people who aren’t paying attention to the road.”
On April 4, 2023, the new distracted driving law goes into effect.
Brunswick Hills Police and many other departments are also preparing for the change. Sopkovich said his officers are going to be on the lookout for all the signs we know so well, from swerving while driving to blatantly operating a vehicle with a phone in your hand.
“When we see someone driving with their phone or electronic device in their hand, we can automatically pull them over,” he said.
For the first six months, officers will give drivers a grace period, issuing warnings for breaking the new law, but after the grace period, citations will be issued.
“First offense is $150 and two points on your license, so this is serious,” Sopkovich said.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol said there have been more than 61,000 distracted driver-related crashes since 2018.
“It’s far too many and we do know that number is underreported,” Sgt. Ryan Purpura said. “Really this law is just another tool in our toolbox to enforce that distracted driving law and really, truly save lives.”
Cleveland police are also urging drivers to get ready for the new law.
In an emailed statement, Cleveland police said, “Motorists are reminded to pay full attention to the road when operating a vehicle. Distractions of any kind can be extremely dangerous.”
There are several exceptions to this new law. You can have the phone to your ear if you are on the phone, or use it while at a stoplight, but texting, scrolling, recording videos, and navigating with the phone in your hand while in motion are all not allowed.
Police agree that this change is long overdue and ultimately about helping protect all drivers on the roadways.
“It’s not worth it,” Sopkovich said. “Secure them in ways in your vehicle, use it appropriately and you’ll have no issues with law enforcement.”