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Police warn of cell phone ban


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POSTED: Friday, June 26, 2009

Honolulu police are going to the airwaves, printed mailers, newspapers and roadside signs to remind the public about the cell phone ban for drivers going into effect Wednesday.

At a news conference yesterday, Maj. Thomas Nitta said police have sent mass mailings to schools, religious groups, stores, hotels and other locations to get the word out about the new city law.

Police have also worked with the state Department of Transportation to flash reminders on 10 electronic message boards across the island starting at 3 p.m. yesterday, and to inform arrivals from the airport.

“;Ninety-nine percent of feedback has been positive,”; said Nitta, who noted the ban is effective only on Oahu.

The ban is based on a Connecticut law that prohibits the use of mobile electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle, according to police.

The public has had nearly two months to learn about the new ban, but many still have questions.

NEW RULES OF THE ROAD

Police posted a page of questions and answers on the department Web site, and Maj. Thomas Nitta clarified some issues yesterday for Oahu drivers.

Question: What is classified as a mobile electronic device?

Answer: This includes cell phones, text-messaging devices, pagers, personal digital assistants, MP3 players, laptops, video games and digital photographic devices. Hands-free devices are allowed. Navigation devices such as GPS are allowed.

Q: How will this law be enforced?

A: If officers see a driver using a mobile electronic device, the driver will be pulled over and issued a $67 ticket for the first violation.

Q: What does “;using”; mean under this law?

A: “;Using”; means holding a mobile electronic device while operating a motor vehicle. If the device remains on the lap, it is still considered legal, Nitta said.

Q: May I make a phone call while I am stopped in traffic?

A: No. It is illegal to make a phone call while the vehicle's engine is on, whether it is in motion or not. Calls to 911 are exempt from the law.

Q: Is texting (by drivers) against the law?

A: Yes.