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Are your Employees or Teens texting and driving?

In January 2013, Ohio officially enacted a texting ban known as H.B. 99.  H.B. 99 is a very strict law for anyone 18 years of age and under.  It makes texting, emailing, talking on your phone through any method, using a computer, laptop, tablet, or using a non-hands free GPS while driving a “primary offense.”

A “primary offense” means that the police officer has cause to stop and ticket the driver.  The penalties for minors are steep:

  • 1st offense:  60-day license suspension and a $150.00 fine.
  • Subsequent violations:  One-Year license suspension and a $300.00 fine

However, adults over 18 years of age are subject to a “secondary offense,” which restricts adult drivers to using an electronic device to write, send, or read text messages while driving.

Additionally, the police officer must pull the adult driver over for some other traffic violation before he/she can cite the driver for texting and driving.

The penalty for adult drivers is:

  • A minor misdemeanor with a maximum fine up to $150.00.

Finally, as an employer, you could be liable if you are encouraging your employees to use their cell phones when they are driving as part of their employment and an accident occurs during the use of the cell phone.  Employers should prohibit any work policy or practice that requires or encourages employees to text while driving.

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