Friday, January 8, 2010

Ban on "driving while texting:" Ohio General Assembly update by Sharon Montgomery.

Sharon Montgomery writes:

After some of us got the heads-up message from an aide to Sen. Shirley A. Smith's (Sen. Dist. 21) that SB 164 might have proponent testimony at 3:30 Wednesday January 13, 2010, I got the official hearing notice from the Ohio Senate highway and transportation committee: SB 164 will be heard at 11:30 a.m, Wednesday January 13, 2010.

The hearing will be held in Senate south hearing room at the Statehouse.

SB 164 makes Driving While Texting (DWT) a primary offense for all drivers though with the usual exceptions for safety personnel or getting emergency help. The fine is $200 first offense, $500 for repeat offenses plus 100 hrs. community service for third and later offenses. In Sen. Smith's original text for this bill, DWT was a secondary offense.

Objections raised by committee members at sponsor testimony were in the usual categories "it's my business" and "police have more important things to do."

Questions were in the usual "how do police know driver is texting?" and" where do we draw the line with DWD?" categories.

Nit-picking comments went into worries that camera enforcement would spread to this.

There are nine committee members. You need to bring copies of testimony for each member plus spares for press & audience to pick up.

If you can't come but want to put in your two cents' worth, please contact chair Sen. Tom Patton (Sen. Dist. 24) at or 614-466-8056.

If you want to attend the committee hearing, I recommend arriving downtown Columbus no later than 11:00 a.m. You might have to park farther away than the Statehouse underground garage and walk back. If you let me know that you are coming, I will pass the information on to Sen. Smith's office.

Great news!! I now have law enforcement on board. The Summit County sheriff will come or send someone. Also an officer with the Franklin County sheriff's department will come, subject to the approval of his supervisor.

Representative Nancy Garland (House Dist. 20) has no update on whether the House leadership has decided which of the various House DWT bills will be voted on. Representative Garland is one of two sponsors of HB 270 to make DWT a primary offense. I have not heard anything from the office of House committee chair Linda S. Bolon's (House Dist. 1) on which House bill will go forward. That probably means the House committee won't be ready for a next hearing before January 26.

Sharon Montgomery

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Design is copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Bexley Public Radio Foundation. Text is copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Sharon Montgomery.

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