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Hamilton Council Crunches Cell Phone Use in Cars

Tuesday night, the Hamilton City Council voted 4-2 to ban cell phone use while driving in the city limits.

The council heard over a half hour of comments, mainly against the new ordinance from valley residents, some of whom said they would quit shopping in Hamilton if the law was enacted.

The council then held a second reading of the ordinance and passed it 4-2, which means it becomes law in 30 days. The council also instituted a grace period, during which the new law would be publicized.

The Hamilton “hand held device” law reads:

No person shall use or have in their immediate physical possession a hand held electronic communications device while operating or driving a motor vehicle on a public highway within the city limits.

The definition of a “hand held electronic device” in the ordinance:

Any mobile or portable device that allows electronic communications to or from the user of the device, whether by voice or text. Such devices include, but are not limited to, wireless or cellular telephone, personal digital assistants, laptop or notebook computers, global positioning systems, navigational systems, pagers and devices that are temporarily mounted inside the motor vehicle, unless the device is a hands free device.

Now, the ordinance also states that simply having a cell phone on your body does not constitute immediate physical possession. And there are exceptions: you can use the phone to report a health, fire, safety or police emergency, you can use a two-way radio while performing work duties and you can use a phone when the car is stationary in parking space. And, of course, emergency vehicles are not affected by the law.

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