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Cell Phone Ban On-Hold in Chapel Hill
Written by Bruce Ferrel & Josh Zach   
Monday, 14 May 2012 13:09

(Chapel Hill) -- A Chapel Hill city ordinance banning all cell phone use, hands held or hands free, while driving (regardless of the driver's age) is now on hold in the courts. The law was not set to take place until June, but a judge has already blocked implementation. Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt says he hopes the courts will provide guidance.

"The courts are here for a reason. They're here to tell us whether or not the elected officials who made the decision within the authority, and help us understand [the meaning of the words used by the officials in the ordinance]. That's what's goign to happen in the litigation."

The ban passed Town Council by a vote of 5 to 4 after two years of consideration in April. But Orange County Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson issued a temporary restraining order, blocking the ordinance.

"There's an injunction that prevents the implementation of the cell phone ban," Kleinschmidt says, "which is not scheduled to go in to effect until June first. I anticipate we will have much of this resolved by then."

The Stark Law Group said it filed suit on behalf of George's Towing & Recovery. The company maintains its tow truck operators must use their mobile phones to respond to enquiries about cars that have been towed and need to be released.

Kleinschimdt says the city will try to fight for its legal position. "I was never, personallY, a supporter of the cell phone ban. But it is now an ordinance that will be in effect in Chapel Hill and need to defend it."

North Carolina drivers already are prohibited from sending text messages while driving. Drivers under 18 are banned from any phone use. The local ban is the first of its kind in the state.

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 May 2012 00:00


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