Austin Ward has been behind the wheel of a car -- as a licensed driver -- only for a few months.
"All of the driving-school rules are still fresh in my head," the 16-year-old junior at Toledo Technology Academy said.
The Ward youth said he doesn't text and drive, so the new statewide law that goes into effect today won't impact the way he operates.
For motorists 18 and younger like him, it is now illegal to use nearly any handheld wireless communication device while in traffic, which includes sitting at a red light or in a traffic jam.
Toledo police Sgt. Joe Heffernan said the new law won't change a lot of what police in the city do now -- a similar ordinance was passed in Toledo in 2009 and took effect in 2010 -- but could help increase awareness of distracted-driving risks. The state law is also much tougher on young drivers.
The only exceptions are using preprogramed GPS devices or making emergency phone calls for police, an ambulance, or firefighters.
The state law does not prohibit the use of voice-operated or hands-free devices.
"The Toledo ordinance doesn't cover everything the state law does," Sergeant Heffernan said.
"For example, if a juvenile is talking on the phone, that's a provision in the law that's not in the Toledo ordinance, so we would cite the [state law]," he said.
Sergeant Heffernan said that the department's police officers, if they are going to issue a citation for texting while driving, likely will use the city ordinance first, unless the offense only falls under the state law.
Officers can't, he said, issue a citation twice -- once under city ordinance and again under state law -- for the same violation.
Oftentimes, officers in Toledo don't use the city ordinance, but rather cite someone for assured clear distance because "oftentimes they've already gotten into an accident."
If someone is driving too slow or too fast and drifting between lanes, officers "can't really prove that they were on the phone because we're usually behind them. In a case like that, we'll cite them for attention to operation," Sergeant Heffernan said.
In the city, texting while driving is a primary offense, meaning police can pull people over for violating the ordinance.
In municipalities without their own ordinance, texting while driving would fall under state rule as a secondary offense, meaning an officer must have another reason to pull over a driver.
The misdemeanor offense could result in a $150 fine and a 60-day driver's license suspension; a second violation is a $300 fine and a one-year suspension.
Michigan law prohibits drivers from reading, typing, or sending a text message while driving, according to the state's Office of Highway Safety Planning.
Texting while driving is a primary offense and violators can face a fine of $100 for the first offense and $200 for subsequent violations.
Although Ohio's law goes into effect today, there is a six-month grace period where police could issue warnings.
"I don't like to be in that risk," said Alex Foulke, 17, a senior at Toledo Tech.
The Foulke youth said he doesn't text and drive and doesn't even like to be in a car with someone who is.
As he's been on the roadways, he said he's had some close calls with cars crossing into his lane or driving at inconsistent speeds.
"When I drive past them, I look and I see they're texting, and I'm like, 'Ugh,' " the teen said.
"No text is that important that you have to put your life in danger."
A classmate, Jose Ruiz, 17, also a senior, said most accidents he hears about seem to be the result of someone driving and texting.
He, too, said he does not text as he's driving because it's dangerous, but if he were in the car with a driver who was distracted by a cell phone, he might not necessarily speak up, either.
"I'd put on my seat belt," he said. "It always makes me nervous and I'm on the edge of my seat."
The teenagers said they don't think many of their classmates are aware of the new law.
The Foulke youth said he heard about it from both of his parents -- his dad brought home information from work and his mother talked to him about the hazards after a friend's son died because of a distracted driver.
To increase awareness, Highway Patrol troopers and AAA officials visited Clay High School on Thursday to discuss the new law and give students the opportunity to use a texting-while-driving simulator so they can "appreciate how much texting distracts drivers."
Contact Taylor Dungjen at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @tdungjen_Blade.