Ohio Distracted Driver Law

As of April 4, 2023, it is illegal to use or hold a cell phone or electronic device in your hand, lap or other parts of the body while driving on Ohio roads. If an officer sees a violation, they can pull you over.

Drivers over 18 years old can make or receive calls via hands-free devices including:

  • Speakerphone
  • Earpiece
  • Wireless headset
  • Electronic watch
  • Connecting phone to vehicle

In most cases, anything more than a single touch or swipe is against the law. 

What's off limits?

With very few exceptions, anything that involves using, holding or supporting a device while driving is off-limits. This could include:

  • Dialing a phone number
  • Sending a text message
  • Updating or browsing social media
  • Video calls or FaceTime
  • Browsing the internet
  • Watching videos
  • Playing games
  • Recording or streaming video

Drivers can listen to audio streaming apps and use navigational equipment if they turn them on before getting on the road or use a single touch or swipe to activate, modify or deactivate them. Drivers under the age of 18 are still restricted from using their devices in any way, including hands-free features.

Exceptions include:

  • Drivers responding to an emergency law enforcement, a hospital, health care provider, fire department or similar emergency entity.
  • Drivers holding a phone to their ear during phone conversations, if the call is started or stopped with a single touch or swipe.
  • Drivers holding or using cell phones and other electronic devices while stopped at a traffic light or parked on a road or highway during an emergency road closure.
  • First responders (law enforcement, fire, EMS) using electronic devices as part of their official duties. 
  • Utility workers operating utility vehicles in certain emergency or outage situations.
  • Licensed operators using an amateur radio.
  • Commercial truck drivers using a mobile data terminal.

Learn more about the Ohio Distracted Law