A Republican state senator from Ohio thought he could fool attendees on a Zoom call by placing a virtual background of what appears to be his home on the screen while he was driving. Unfortunately, the seatbelt was a dead giveaway and it is obvious he is navigating traffic.
To make matters even worse, the incident occurred on the very same day that the Ohio Senate was deliberating a Distracted Driving Bill. House Bill 283 was introduced on Monday. Under the “Hands-Free Ohio” bill, it would also be illegal to write, send, or read texts, watch or record videos, take photos/selfies, type into a phone, and live stream, among other device-related actions and applications. Punishment would be similar to individuals caught while driving under the influence.
The law would also make holding or using an electronic device while driving a primary offense and that would justify police pulling over the driver. Currently, texting while driving is a secondary offense for drivers that are over the age of 18, which means that the police must witness another moving violation before they can pull the driver over.
Brenner admitted what he had done but justified it: “I wasn’t distracted. I was paying attention to the driving and listening to it (the meeting,)” Brenner claimed. “I had two meetings that were back to back that were in separate locations. And I’ve actually been on other calls, numerous calls, while driving. 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.”
(Video Credit: Trending Views)
He also contended that he was parked for most of the 13-minute Zoom meeting with the Ohio Controlling Board. “I was wearing a seat belt and paying attention to the road,” he claimed.
State Sen. Andrew Brenner was wearing a seatbelt and appeared to be driving during today's Ohio Controlling Board virtual meeting. That's a first for me! pic.twitter.com/MxI3rDoGIH
— Andrew Tobias (@AndrewJTobias) May 3, 2021
It appears that Brenner also turned his camera on and off repeatedly hoping to disguise where he was actually calling from.
Brenner picks up his phone in the video and then his camera is suddenly turned off. When he turns it back on he is seen fooling around with the virtual background. Brenner then appears to display a home office behind him.
He turns the camera off again and then he is seen with his seatbelt fastened and the virtual background flickering away behind him. Brenner then turns the camera off again, apparently not happy with the results.
The video comes back to life one last time but it is still glitching. Amusingly, you can see the scenery outside the window behind Brenner’s head as he’s driving. No one in the Zoom meeting commented on the obvious backdrop.
In February, Republican Governor Mike DeWine announced he would be including provisions in his budget proposal that would strengthen Ohio’s distracted driving laws.
“Ohio’s current laws don’t go far enough to change the culture around distracted driving, and people are dying because of it,” DeWine remarked in his announcement. “Distracted driving is a choice that must be as culturally unacceptable as drunk driving is today, and strengthening our current laws will lead to more responsible driving.”
Twitter mocked the senator mercilessly:
— Heather Gonzalez (@HeatherlGonzale) May 3, 2021
The green screen of the office is a funny touch.
— Corey Ann (she/her) (@coreyann) May 3, 2021
Sometimes you have to strap in for the rough meetings. I get it.
— Garrett Ulrich (@GarrettJokes) May 6, 2021
Huh? Does his wife not trust him home alone? Was he tanked and they were afraid he’ll fall out of his chair mid-meeting?
— Adam VanHo (New Account) (@VanHoAdam) May 4, 2021
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