Dublin could be the next Ohio city to prohibit texting while driving.

Dublin could be the next Ohio city to prohibit texting while driving.

Dublin City Council on Jan. 24 heard the first reading of amendments to a current ordinance that will allow officers to pull over and cite drivers who are texting while driving.

City law director Stephen Smith said the city's distracted driving ordinance would be amended if approved by council next month.

The amendments prohibit "texting, accessing the internet, instant messaging and reading any such information," the staff report said.

According to the proposed amendments, texting while driving would be a primary offense, which means "a police officer may initiate a traffic stop based solely on a violation of this ordinance," the staff report said.

"We've been able to create an ordinance we think is enforceable," Smith told council.

Texting while driving would also become a fourth-degree misdemeanor, as would full time attention, which was previously a minor misdemeanor.

According to Dublin's code, a fourth-degree misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of a $150 fine and up to 30 days in jail.

If approved, Dublin will still permit drivers to make and receive calls and use GPS systems, but they would have to be careful.

"An officer can pull over someone on the phone who's not paying attention," interim police chief Heinz von Eckartsberg said.

Council member Cathy Boring, who previously cited concerns about enforcing a ban on texting while driving, complimented staff's efforts.

"Thanks for not bringing us an additional law," she said.

Boring also called attention to the city's campaign against texting while driving, which began late last year.

"Thanks to (council member) Michael Keenan for pushing the educational aspect," she said, noting that many residents have signed an online pledge to not text and drive.

The city began a campaign against texting while driving in December after council members asked staff to pen a law against the act.

The website, dublinohiocares.me, carries information on the dangers of texting while driving, videos and a pledge.

Keenan said the city has been contacted by the family of a boy who was killed while texting and driving about their educational efforts. Photos and other information from the family that Keenan said "pulls at your heart strings" will be included in the city's educational campaign.

The amendments regarding texting while driving will go before Dublin City Council members for a second and final reading on Feb. 14.