An Ohio state senator was driving during a Zoom call on the same day the state legislature took up a bill that would penalize distracted driving.
State Sen. Andrew Brenner was seen wearing a seatbelt and driving while his Zoom virtual background was a home office.
Brenner told The Columbus Dispatch he "wasn't distracted," adding, "I've actually been on other calls, numerous calls, while driving."
An Ohio state senator was seen driving while on a Zoom call on the same day that the state legislature began debating a bill that would impose harsher penalties on distracted drivers.
The Columbus Dispatch and Gizmodo reported that Andrew Brenner appeared at the Monday meeting wearing a seatbelt and apparently navigating traffic with a virtual Zoom background of what looked like his home office behind him.
In the beginning of the call with members of the Ohio Controlling Board, the Republican lawmaker was seen sitting in his parked car. Brenner then picked his phone up around one minute and 50 seconds into the meeting and the camera feed cut out for about 40 seconds.
At three minutes and 30 seconds in, Brenner turned on his virtual Zoom background. And a little under a minute later, at roughly the 4:20 mark, Brenner was seen wearing a seatbelt and driving with his Zoom virtual background on.
Watch the meeting below:
Earlier that day, members of the Ohio state legislature introduced House Bill 283, which would "prohibit driving while using [an] electronic communications device."
Under the "Hands-Free Ohio" bill, introduced by the state's Republican governor last year, it would be illegal for Ohioans to write, send, or read texts, watch or record videos, take pictures, type into a phone, and livestream, among other device-related actions. The punishment for Ohioans who get into an accident while using a device would be similar to those for drivers under the influence.
Brenner told The Columbus Dispatch that he was driving while on the call, but added: "I wasn't distracted. I was paying attention to the driving and listening to it. I had two meetings that were back to back that were in separate locations."
"I've actually been on other calls, numerous calls, while driving," he continued. "Phone calls for the most part but on video calls, I'm not paying attention to the video. To me, it's like a phone call."
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