Honolulu bans take effect July 1

mayor-of-honolulu-signer-of-cell-phone-lawThe City of Honolulu’s long debate over drivers’ use of handheld electronic devices finally has reached an end.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann signed Bill 4 into law on May 7. Prohibited devices include handheld cell phones, text messaging devices, PDAs, laptop computers and video game machines.

In February, the Honolulu mayor vetoed an earlier plan to ban text messaging while driving after police complained they had no way of telling what a driver was doing while holding a cell phone. Honolulu’s police have resisted all previous efforts to control drivers’ use of wireless devices, citing enforcement concerns. The department also has lobbied against State of Hawaii cell phone legislation.

The mayor, pictured, noted that the new law was “carefully crafted.”

Police spokesman Thomas Nitta said of the new plan: “As long as you are operating a motor vehicle and you are holding an electronic device that will be a violation.”

Honolulu police have posted an FAQ page related to the ban on use of mobile electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle.

City Council members Rod Tam and Donovan Dela Cruz introduced the new Honolulu ordinance.

Honolulu joins a long list of U.S. cities and counties that have written their own laws regarding use of cell phones and texting devices while driving. The local laws usually come in response to a perceived lack of action at the state level. Some states ban local motor vehicle laws. Pennsylvania, for instance, has threatened Philadelphia with a loss of road and highway funding after the city enacted its own cell phone and text messaging ban for operators of vehicles.

In Hawaii, all state-level attempts to prohibit the use of handheld cell phones while driving have failed. A new crop is under consideration for the 2009 legislative session.

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