Can I Go to Jail for Using My Cell Phone While Driving? What Are The New Criminal Justice Laws in Ohio in 2023?

What Ohio Laws Changed in 2023?

In 2023, Ohio addressed several criminal justice issues with the signing of SB 288, including making it illegal to use your cell phone while driving beginning April 3. Changes in other areas of the law are listed below briefly; however, we explore them further in other sections of our website.

  • Application times for sealing of conviction record
  • Record sealing of misdemeanor assault
  • Mandatory sentencing for multiple OVI convictions
  • Penalties for community control violations if seeking medical assistance

What is the New Cell Phone Law in Ohio?

The illegal use of a cell phone is considered a traffic offense under ORC 4511.204.

Traffic offenses can quickly lead to criminal charges, especially when it is legal for law enforcement to immediately stop any driver who appears distracted by their phone. During the stop, the officer will also be looking for potential criminal offenses. Therefore, what you do or say during a traffic stop is extremely important.

Legal Uses of a Cell Phone While Driving

  1. When the vehicle is parked or stopped at a red light
  2. Swiping the phone to answer a call
  3. Holding the cell phone to the ear
  4. Hands-free calls (speaker, earbuds, vehicle Bluetooth speaker)
  5. Navigation if begun prior to driving or one-swipe modifications during driving
  6. Emergency calls

Penalties include a $150 fine and 2 points on license for the first offense. A third offense will result in a 90-day driver’s license suspension, 4 points, and a $500 fine.

Every traffic stop, including a distracted driving stop, will involve the officer/s observing you, your passengers, and your vehicle for other, more serious violations.

Violations That Law Enforcement Frequently Look For at Traffic Stops

  1. Active warrants for arrest
  2. Seatbelt and child car-seat usage
  3. Drug and alcohol offenses
  4. Concealed weapons offenses
  5. Kidnapping and Abduction
  6. Trafficking drugs or people

What to Do and Not Do at a Traffic Stop

  1. Cooperate with the officer’s request for driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance.
  2. Keep your hands visible.
  3. Cooperate in signing any citation if given one.
  4. Inform the officer you would like to speak to your criminal defense attorney if being questioned.
  5. Do not consent to a search of your person or vehicle.
  6. Comply if being arrested, but clearly state that you do NOT waive your rights.

Could a Distracted Driving Stop Result in a Felony Charge?

Any traffic stop can escalate to criminal charges if you are not careful about what you say and how you act. If you are charged with a crime during a traffic stop, or have an active warrant out for your arrest, it’s imperative to call an experienced Ohio attorney who specializes in criminal defense before you get pulled over..

Everyone charged with a crime has the right to a qualified lawyer’s services and advice. Reach out at once to discuss your case with a Delaware County, Ohio criminal defense attorney today.

Written by The Law Office of Brian Jones, LLC


Ohio Legislative Service Commission

Dr. Benjamin Jackoby

Dr. Hank Jackoby

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