Cell phone ban trips up 38 drivers


POSTED: Friday, July 03, 2009

Honolulu police cited 38 Oahu drivers who allegedly violated the new cell phone ban and issued seven warnings Wednesday, when the new law went into effect.

Based on visual observations by officers, “;the majority of motorists are complying with the law,”; said Honolulu Police Department spokesman Maj. Clayton Kau.

The department did not conduct a special campaign to ticket violators Wednesday and has no plans to do so, Kau said.

The citations were issued while patrol officers were performing their daily responsibilities.

“;It is not our intent to cite people,”; he said. “;There is a law and we're asking them to comply. We administer all laws equally. If the officer observes them, we'll take action.”;

People could be subject to a citation if they are found driving and holding a hand-held electronic device, including cell phones, text messaging devices, personal digital assistants, laptops and digital cameras. (GPS devices are permissible.)

Motorists have been adjusting to the new law.

Grace Caligtan, who has not gotten a headset for her phone yet, received a call from a friend having a baby Wednesday.

“;The birth mother called and I actually pulled over,”; she said. “;I do have a couple of friends who would say, 'Stop and we'll have this conversation another time.' I was always aware that it pulled my focus.”;

David Ramage, 43, is opposed to police enforcing the new law immediately.

“;It infringes on our ability to adapt,”; he said. “;I caught myself on the freeway, and I said, 'Uh oh, I gotta go.'”;

A few warnings instead of citations, which come with a $67 fine, were given at the officer's discretion, Kau said.

Like any other infraction such as a speeding ticket, anyone cited can send in a letter disputing the citation, he said.

Some drivers, like Loke Kim, 55, said her son bought her a headset, but she does not like talking on a cell phone and driving.

“;The older you get, the more you need to focus,”; she said.

Star-Bulletin reporter Rosemarie Bernardo contributed to this report.