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Ohio House Passes Anti-Texting Bill; Senate Must Now Act

Thirty states and Washington, D.C., have a texting-while-driving ban that it is believed serves as a strong deterrent to irresponsible behavior and greatly reduces tragic outcomes from car accidents and roadway fatalities.

Ohio is not among them, but that is not for lack of trying. An anti-texting bill passed through the Ohio House last year, but stalled in the Senate. Another bill — similar in particulars to last year’s failed effort — has just been passed in the House and will soon be sent to the Senate for consideration. The legislation makes it a misdemeanor to write, send or read text messages while driving.

Reaction is mixed, especially among Ohio State Patrol troopers and police officers. Although they generally laud the effort and its focus on road safety, many also wonder whether enforcement will be problematic and even worth the effort in many cases.

“I think there will be a lot of people who will make every effort to follow it because it’s a law and that’s a good idea,” said Lima Law Director Tony Geiger.

An opposing view, though, stresses the fear of some officers that an inordinate amount of time could be involved with every minor misdemeanor.

“I’m skeptical on a new law because of problems enforcing it,” said Allen County Sheriff Sam Crish.

What worries Crish and many other enforcement officers across the state is that it could be difficult to prove in many instances that a person actually was texting. As one officer notes, “Just because we cite someone for it, we still have to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt in court.”

The bill’s future now resides in the state Senate.

Related Resource: Associated Press, “Ohio law enforcement officers say enforcing possible texting-while-driving ban could be tough” July 10, 2011