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Cellphone use while driving in Lakewood is now a primary offense

Posted: 10:40 AM, Dec 02, 2019
Updated: 2019-12-02 14:09:43-05
File image: Texting while driving.

LAKEWOOD, Ohio — The City of Lakewood’s new traffic ordinance prohibiting almost all uses of mobile phones while driving begins Monday. Lakewood joins North Royalton, Beachwood and other northeast Ohio cities with similar laws.

The city says exceptions include using hands-free devices and using phones while in park.

In September, Lakewood City Council unanimously adopted legislation banning the use of cell phones and electronic devices while driving. The legislation elevates cell phone related offenses from secondary to primary, which means an officer does not need to identify an accompanying traffic violation in order to issue a ticket.

“On balance, this is a really important step to make our community safer,” said Council President Sam O'Leary when the legislation was adopted. "What we need in our society with respect to using a cell phone while driving, is a cultural shift the same way that we had to confront the dangers of drinking and driving. And actually, all the data suggests that the dangers of cell phone use while driving is on par with the dangers of drinking and driving.”

First offenders could be charged with a minor misdemeanor and be given a $150 fine.

The City of Lakewood can enact its own laws in regards to cell phone use while driving because of the Ohio Revised Code.

“The Lakewood Police Department supports the new ordinance on distracted driving as an important step forward in deterring preventable accidents,” said Chief Malley in a statement. “Distracted driving is a major cause of crashes on our roadways and giving our officers the tools to prevent these crashes from happening is appropriate.”

RELATED: Phones down in Lakewood: most cellphone use while driving will soon be a primary offense