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Mayor Proposes Stricter Cell Phone Law; Council Sets Public Hearing on Tuesday
Posted on: 10/02/2013
By  Andy Rex
Marietta mayor Joe Matthews is proposing to add a stronger local enforcement piece to Ohio’s texting ban.
Under current state law, adults may not text and drive, and must first be pulled over for something else. It’s called a secondary offense. A person under age 18 may not text or talk while driving, and it’s a primary offense, meaning on officer may stop the motorist upon seeing a cell phone being used.
So Matthews is essentially proposing to make the state law for minors apply to everyone driving inside city limits. He says he’s proposing the ordinance because he feels the state law isn’t strong enough…
“The state law does not have enough teeth in it.  Mostly, the state law is just dealing with children -  underage drivers.  What I’m proposing is to go farther than that.  If we’re going to do anything and pass anything, it has to be more punitive than the state law.”
Under current Ohio law, it’s a minor misdemeanor with a fine of up to $150 if an adult driver is caught texting.  For minors, the first violation is a $150 fine and a 60 day license suspension for texting or talking behind the wheel. Matthews says he’s looked at ordinances in several other Ohio cities in formulating his proposal…
“They include Beachwood, Ohio; Brooklyn; North Olmsted; North Royalton; South Euclid; Walton Hills; and Woodmere.  These communities treat violations as primary offenses.  Of course, (with) the state law, texting is a secondary offense for adults and usage for minors is a primary offense.  What I’m proposing is to do both of them (as primary).”
City Council has agreed to look at the proposal, and has scheduled a public meeting for people to voice their opinions. 
Matthews says it’s always important to get input on issues before making decisions. So far he’s gotten a positive response.
“Give people a chance to air their differences out either way.  But all the calls I’m getting, they’re all supportive of it.  You don’t know, there might be a lot of people come out against it.  And, I’ve even had a couple of people tell me they have put it on Facebook that they’re supporting me.”
That public meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, October 8, at 7:00 PM at the Lookout Park Community Center, located here on Harmar Hill.
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