Hilliard City Council members are expected to repeal a local ordinance banning texting while driving in Hilliard, instead relying on the state law that goes into effect Friday, Aug. 31

Hilliard City Council members are expected to repeal a local ordinance banning texting while driving in Hilliard, instead relying on the state law that goes into effect Friday, Aug. 31

Hilliard's law, approved in May 2010, is more stringent in some aspects.

Law Director Pam Fox said at the Aug. 27 meeting of the Public Safety and Legal Affairs Committee that Ohio will not require local laws to be changed so long as "it is not substantially different."

But, Fox said, she considers Hilliard's law to differ too greatly from that of Ohio and recommended council members rescind it.

Ohio law makes driving while texting a secondary offense, unless a driver has a probationary or temporary residence; Hilliard deems it a primary offense for any driver.

As a secondary offense, a police officer must first witness a primary violation of another nature, such as speeding or failure to yield, in order to issue a citation for the secondary offense.

"We did not make that distinction," Fox said.

Hilliard Police Chief Doug Francis said only "two or three citations" have been issued for texting while driving under Hilliard's ordinance. No drivers should receive citations until April 1, 2013, as the state law includes an "educational period" from Aug. 31 through March 31 for Ohio motorists to become acquainted with the new statewide law.

When Hilliard enacted its ordinance in 2010, council members said the measure was more about public awareness than enforcement.

"We want to be consistent with state law," Francis said.

The ordinance is scheduled for a first reading at the Sept. 10 meeting of Hilliard City Council.

In other action at the Public Safety and Legal Affairs Committee meeting, members introduced an ordinance authorizing Hilliard to apply for a grant through the Ohio Department of Commerce.

Hilliard, along with Norwich Township and the city of Upper Arlington, are applying jointly for a local government innovation grant, up to $100,000, to fund a feasibility study for a multijurisdictional 911 dispatching center.

The study will determine the feasibility of consolidating dispatching services with Upper Arlington and Norwich Township. If the study is favorable, inclusion of Worthington, Dublin and Washington Township also will be considered, Francis said.

The ordinance is scheduled for a first reading at the Sept. 10 meeting of City Council.

If the full amount of the grant is received, it should cover the entire cost of the study, Francis said. Grant applications should be reviewed and considered by the end of the year, he said.