DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — A new distracted driving law goes into effect next month in Ohio.

The state highway patrol says it is more important than ever right now after several recent incidents involving close calls with highway cruisers.

Since 2018, there have been 62 thousand crashes across Ohio involving distracted driving.

Because of this, the new law going into effect April 4 gives law enforcement ‘probable cause’ to pull over drivers if officers witness them illegally using their cell phones or other electronic devices.

“You can’t hold your cell phone in your hand, you can’t talk on speaker phone, you can’t use your body to support that device and talk on the phone, you cannot put any manual input, no texting, no entering a phone number,” Sgt. Ryan Purpura of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said.

Under the new law, a driver may still use their device in specific circumstances, such as when their vehicle is parked or stopped at a red light. Drivers are also permitted to swipe their phones to answer a call and to hold their phones to their ears during phone conversations. Emergency calls are also permitted in all circumstances, according to a release by Governor Mike DeWine.

After the new law goes into effect, there will be a six-month grace period where officers will attempt to educate drivers to break distracted driving habits following the effective date.

After this grace period, law enforcement will have the authority to issue citations. Penalties include a fine of up to $150 for a driver’s first offense and two points on their license unless a distracted driving safety course is completed.  Increased penalties can occur if the driver is a repeat offender.

You can read the new law in its entirety here.