Philadelphia banishes handheld cells

philadelphia-city-sealThe Philadelphia City Council voted unanimously Thursday to prohibit drivers from using cell phones unless a hands-free device is attached.

The mayor promises to quickly sign the legislation, which includes a ban on text messaging while behind the wheel. (Update: Mayor Mike Nutter signed the legislation April 30, ignoring threats from state lawmakers.)

“Dialing a phone number or sending a text message while driving will no longer be tolerated in the City of Philadelphia and I predict lives will be saved as a result,” said Councilman Frank Rizzo Jr.

The Philadephia prohibitions on handheld cell phones extend to bicyclists, motorcyclists, skaters and skateboarders. Fines for using handheld phones or text messaging begin at $150 ($75 if paid in 10 days) and top out at $300. Violations will not be considered moving offenses, meaning no points or insurance problems.

“People on their phones are drunk on technology,” said the legislation’s sponsor, Councilman Bill Green.


  1. brigid mulgrew says:

    i got ticketed for taking a picture with a digital camera while driving. i wasn’t texting nor on my cell phone. the cop said it was because of the “hands free” law. soon enough, they’ll ban smoking while driving………give me a break

  2. Michelle says:

    A couple clarifications here:
    1. the fine is $75 for the first offense, which will double if you don’t pay in 10 days
    2. the law is designed to keep people OFF the phone, not just make them use another device to talk. it is about safety.
    3. there may be a legal fight over it, but PA allows municipalities to add laws for their jurisdiction – several PA towns already have cell phone bans, so Philly should be okay to do this.

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