Honolulu City Council bans cell phone use while driving - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Honolulu City Council bans cell phone use while driving

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By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Oahu drivers have just a few more months until they're able to talk or text on their cell phones without getting a ticket.

The city council overwhelmingly voted to pass a bill Wednesday morning that would ban the use of electronics while driving.

The council approved the bill by a six to one vote.

Following states like New York and California, Honolulu may be the latest to ban the use of cell phones while driving.

Although he says he supports it, Mayor Mufi Hannemann still needs to make it official.

"I'm not ready to definitely say that I'm going to sign it into law, I want to huddle up again with the prosecutor's office, police department, make sure corporation council goes over it with a fine tooth comb and if it passes all of that, I'm prepared to sign it into law," Hannemann said.

This comes after the mayor vetoed an earlier ban that included text messaging and playing video games.

He and Honolulu police say that law would be impossible to enforce. But the council came up with a more inclusive bill.

"Will it be a pain? Yeah, it will be a pain to get used to using a hands free set, it's a pain to get used to using seat belts, but seat belts save lives, these devices will save lives," city councilmember Duke Bainum said.

With this new bill, officers would only need to see a driver holding an electronic device while driving to cite a person.

Caelyn Brown and Paige Jimenez are big supporters of the ban. They helped bring more awareness to the dangers of using a cell phone while driving.

"If it is passed, then we'll know we helped people and we may not have really seen it ourselves, but people could've been saved because of this bill," Jimenez said.

The bill does allow drivers to use a cell phone while driving only if they're using a hands-free device.

"One article I read recently, it said that when California's law got passed, it saved over 200 lives just in a year," Brown said.

Council chair Todd Apo was the only councilmember who voted against the ban.

Although some details still need to be worked out, police say the fine for first time offenders would be between 20 and 100 dollars.