The City Council of Bowling Green faces an upcoming vote that would change the way some people eat breakfast and put on their makeup. That’s because the city is deciding whether to ban distracted driving altogether. Unlike other cities which focus on the cause of the distraction (texting, handheld calling, etc.), officials in Bowling Green are looking at the problem from a different angle.
According to the BG News, if your actions take your attention away from the road, you could be fined $25 plus costs for distracted driving. The ordinance doesn’t clarify exactly what actions constitute distracted driving, leaving that open to interpretation.
Eating, changing the music, fumbling with a GPS device, or getting ready for work could all very well be ticketable offenses under the new ordinance. And which would be ticketed, would ultimately be left up to the officer.
Some are worried the vague nature of the law is asking for trouble. Others, on the other hand, say banning the actual offense (distracted driving) rather than a cause of the offense (texting) makes better sense. After all, couldn’t an accident just as easily be caused by someone putting ketchup on their fries as someone dialing a phone number?
Apparently, similar laws already exist on the books in other Ohio communities, but they are lawfully enforced and their presence doesn’t cause any controversy.
A community member asked at the council meeting where the proposed ordinance was read, “If the driver isn’t doing anything to cause an accident while distracted, they shouldn’t be pulled over until they do something that may lead to one, like crossing over marked lines.”
He raises an important question, would officers who are having a slow day target drivers who seem distracted even when their driving behavior isn’t effected? It’s unlikely, and city council members say that such action would be checked by the courts.
The ordinance requires two more readings before the council will vote.
Distracted driving is a ticketable offense, not a crime. But other driving violations require the same level of interpretation by officers and are considered criminal offenses. Reckless driving, for example, is a misdemeanor charge that carries hefty fines. If it isn’t your first offense, a conviction for reckless driving can even carry jail time, and like the proposed distracted driving law, this one is open to interpretation.
If you are accused of reckless driving, you face serious consequences. Let us help. Contact our offices today to discuss your case and your legal options.