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Chapel Hill Bans Use Of Cell Phones While Driving, Including Hands Free Devices

5:43 PM, Mar 27, 2012   |    comments
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Chapel Hill, NC-- A first in North Carolina happened in the town of Chapel Hill on Monday night.

During a town meeting on Monday night, council members voted to ban all cellphones behind the wheel, including the use of hands-free mobile devices.

When the ban goes into effect on June 1, it will be the first of its kind in North Carolina.

The new ordinance makes cellphone use behind the wheel a secondary offense, meaning an officer must first stop a vehicle for another reason before issuing a citation for violating the ban.

City leaders across the Piedmont Triad weighed in on the new ban. 

"We have never discussed it in the past. Greensboro is a different environment than Chapel Hill. That's not on our radar right now. Greensboro is not considering it at this time, not to say we won't in the future. The ban is just something that Chapel Hill has done and we're not considering it here," said Mayor Robbie Perkins.

"We haven't really talked about it. At a minimum, we'll wait to see if it is challenged by anyone. Right now, we don't have any plans. The attorney general has been consulted about the fact that local government don't have the authority to enforce the cell phone ban," said Winston Salem Mayor Allen Joines.

WFMY News 2 asked the North Carolina's Attorney General's office if Chapel Hill could enforce a cell phone use while driving ban and the AG's office said no.

"Our council has not had any discussions about banning cell phones. Our council had a retreat in February, and there was no talk of cell phones. That's not on our radar right now. Never say never but I have not heard any discussions from any council members, explained Burlington Mayor Ronnie Wall.

"We have discussed it in the past when cell phones became more popular, but not far enough to making a policy," said Mayor Mike Instore.

North Carolina state law already prohibits drivers age 18 and under from using cellphones. The state law also prohibits texting while driving for any driver, regardless of age.

-- Related: Chapel Hill Bans All Use of Cell Phones While Driving.

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