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Ohio Traffic Safety Laws

Ohio Traffic Safety Laws


What Type of Auto Insurance is Required?

In Ohio, it is illegal to drive any motor vehicle without insurance or other proof of financial responsibility. You can meet this requirement by obtaining auto insurance and the required auto liability policy which includes bodily injury liability coverage as well as property damage liability coverage. This is the most common way to meet Ohio’s auto insurance requirement. 

Bodily Injury Liability Coverage: If you’re at fault for a crash that injures another person, bodily injury liability coverage helps pay for their medical expenses. Ohio’s required minimum coverage is $25,000 per person injured in any one incident, and $50,000 for all persons injured in any one incident.

Property Damage Liability Coverage: If you cause a crash that damages someone else’s property (their car, for example), property damage liability coverage helps pay for repairs. Ohio’s required minimum coverage is $25,000 for injury to or destruction of property of others in any one incident.

Other ways to meet Ohio’s auto insurance requirement include obtaining a certificate or filing a bond with the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) indicating that money or government bonds in the amount of $30,000 is on deposit with the Treasurer of the State; or obtaining a certificate of self-insurance if you have more than 25 vehicles registered in your name.

Examples of times you may need to show financial responsibility include:

  • You are involved in a vehicle crash
  • You are charged with a serious traffic offense that requires a court appearance
  • You are stopped for a traffic violation
  • You are stopped for a vehicle safety check

The penalties for financial responsibility law violation depend on the number of offenses you have within a five-year period. Violator penalties could include a 90-day to two-year license suspension and reinstatement fees ranging from $125—$550, in addition to paying for at-fault damages.

What are the distracted driving laws?

In Ohio distracted driving is usually a secondary offense, which means that drivers must commit another traffic violation before they can get penalized for being distracted behind the wheel. However, distracted driving facts reveal that distractions can be unsafe for drivers regardless of whether or not they are committing other violations.

Distracted driving in Ohio is defined as any activity drivers do that may divert their attention from driving. Thus, all driving distractions increase drivers’ odds of getting involved in a car crash. Some dangerous distractions that drivers may succumb to are as follows:

  • Texting and driving
  • Talking to passengers, pedestrians or other drivers
  • Eating
  • Adjusting the radio or air controls

Distracted driving laws address the three main groups of distractions, including visual, manual and cognitive distractions. Because the CDC’s distracted driving facts reveal that texting is one of the most dangerous distractions drivers face, most legislation in Ohio focuses on texting behind the wheel. However, drivers must remember that various driving distractions exist that may pose similar dangers to drivers, passengers and pedestrians.

Distracted Driving Laws in Ohio for Handheld Devices
Under the current distracted driving laws Ohio prohibits the use of handheld electronic devices for text communication. Any drivers who caused or were involved in distracted driving incidents will be penalized based on the level of distraction and incident. Handheld devices include wireless phones, text-messaging devices, personal digital assistants, a laptop computer, a computer tablet or iPad and any other wireless devices that are meant for text communication. However, voice-operated and hands-free devices may be used while driving. Additionally, devices that are features of the vehicle may be used.

House Bill 283, currently awaiting consideration by the Ohio Senate, would make it a statewide primary traffic offense to use a handheld electronic wireless communications device while driving. Passage of HB 283 will make Ohio the 47th state in America to have primary enforcement for texting and significantly expand that enforcement to include watching, streaming, shopping, posting, gaming, or any other interaction on your phone not subject to the stated exceptions. If enacted, any driver in Ohio could get pulled over and cited for holding a phone while the car is in motion, unless it is touching their ear.

Ohio Laws on Distracted Driving for Novice Drivers
Drivers younger than 18 years of age (i.e., novice drivers) are especially vulnerable to driving distractions and may not have the experience necessary to combat the temptation of their phones. Therefore, distracted driving laws dictate that novice drivers, especially those with learner’s permits, must refrain from all cell phone use while driving to aid in the prevention of crashes and near-crash events. This includes talking on their phones. Additionally, the hands-free technology exception does not apply to novice drivers.

Ohio Distracted Driving Regulations for CDL Holders
Those with commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) are subject to the same laws against distracted driving that pertain to other drivers in the state. Consequently, a distracted driving ticket for texting may be issued to commercial drivers if they are suspected of committing another traffic violation. However, unlike most other drivers, commercial drivers may not use a handheld device to make voice calls. Only hands-free devices satisfy driving laws for CDL holders.

Current Distracted Driving Penalties in Ohio
To stop distracted driving, police enforce fines, including:

However, while distracted driving regulations remain similar throughout the state, penalties may vary. For example, in Dublin, OH, distracted drivers are cited with a fourth-degree misdemeanor and receive 2 points on their driving records. Drivers may have to pay fines up to $250 and spend a maximum of 30 days in jail. Additionally, distracted driving is a primary offense in Dublin, which means police officers can stop inattentive drivers even if the drivers have not broken any other laws.

What are the seat belt laws?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), wearing a safety belt while inside a motor vehicle significantly reduces the risk of fatal injury. Because of this, the following safety belt laws are in place in Ohio:

  • Mandatory use of safety belts for all drivers and passengers in the front seat.
  • Children 8 through 15 years old must wear a safety belt or use a child restraint device (when appropriate) at all times, regardless of where in the vehicle they are sitting.

Ohio Child Car Seat Laws
Depending on the age, height, and weight of your child, he or she may be required to use a child safety seat or a booster seat while inside a motor vehicle.

Ohio law requires the following:

  • Children under 4 years old ORless than 40 lbs:
    • Must use a safety seat at all times.
    • Installation for the safety seat must meet the manufacturer's requirements.
  • Children under 8 years old:
    • Must use a booster seat UNLESS the child reaches 4 feet 9 inches or taller.
    • If the shoulder belt crosses near the neck instead of the middle of the chest, your child may need to continue the use of a booster seat beyond the initial age or height requirements.
  • Children 8 to 15 years old:
    • Must wear a seat belt at all times.

The driver is responsible for any minors inside the vehicle. Failure to abide by these laws may result in a fine.

View more Ohio Traffic Safety Laws here.

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