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Senate president questions DeWine’s distracted driving plan

February 10, 2021 GMT
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Terry Dawson, right, the son-in-law of a woman killed by a distracted driver in central Ohio on Christmas Eve 2017, describes how that accident has affected his family and made holidays much harder, at a news conference also attended by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, on Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio. DeWine said he wants distracted driving made a primary offense and promised a legislative proposal soon. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)
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Terry Dawson, right, the son-in-law of a woman killed by a distracted driver in central Ohio on Christmas Eve 2017, describes how that accident has affected his family and made holidays much harder, at a news conference also attended by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, on Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio. DeWine said he wants distracted driving made a primary offense and promised a legislative proposal soon. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s push to crack down on distracted driving is already facing bumps in the road.

Senate President Matt Huffman on Wednesday voiced concerns that the proposal — which would allow police to ticket adults for holding electronic devices at the wheel — could impinge on freedom.

Huffman, a Lima Republican, said he was also worried about municipalities using such a law to generate revenue through ticket writing.

“I’m very concerned about the liberty aspect of an additional reason for law enforcement to be able to stop somebody,” Huffman said.

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DeWine wants the distracted violation to be a primary offense — meaning police wouldn’t need another reason such as speeding to pull drivers over — and he’s including the change in his transportation budget.

DeWine’s proposal would address such activities as writing, sending or looking at texts, watching or recording photos or videos, or livestreaming while handling an electronic device, among other activities. The governor backed similar legislation last year that failed to become law.

Exemptions would include using a phone to place an emergency call or using hands-free functions to talk on the phone or dictate texts.