Hawai’i Police Department
Traffic Services Section
Sergeant Kelly Ka’aumoana-Matsumoto
December 14, 2009
The Hawai’i Police Department is reminding the public that a new law banning the use of cell phones while driving goes into effect in less than three weeks.
In August, the Hawai’i County Council passed County Ordinance 09-82A, which will make it illegal to use a cell phone or other mobile electronic device while driving-except with a hands-free mechanism. The ordinance was signed into law by the mayor. It takes effect on January 1.
The penalty for violating the ordinance is a fine of up to $150 dollars. The fine can go up to as much as $500 if the use of a mobile electronic device causes a collision.
The penalties will not apply to:
- emergency responders using a mobile electronic device in the performance of their job.
- drivers using two-way radios for work-related duties.
- drivers holding a valid amateur radio operator license issued by the FCC and using half-duplex two-way radio.
The ban includes but is not limited to:
- cell phones.
- text messaging devices.
- paging devices.
- personal digital assistants.
- laptop computers.
- video games.
- digital cameras.
It does not include audio equipment or equipment installed in a vehicle to provide navigation or emergency assistance to the driver, or video entertainment for back-seat passengers.
According to the ordinance, the use of a cell phone to make an emergency 911 call shall be an “affirmative defense.” That means it is not illegal to make a 911 call on a cell phone but a driver who claims to have been doing so might still be cited and have to prove that a legitimate 911 call was made.
Police urge the public to be aware of this new law. It is designed to reduce driver distraction and make our roadways safer.