Local News

Chapel Hill council splits 4-4 on cellphone ban

Posted March 12, 2012 11:06 p.m. EDT
Updated March 13, 2012 1:53 p.m. EDT

— The Chapel Hill Town Council was split 4-4 Monday evening on a proposed ordinance that would ban all cellphones behind the wheel, including the use of hands-free mobile devices by drivers.

One council member was absent, according to a town news release.

A second reading on the ordinance is scheduled for the council's next meeting on March 26. If passed, the ban would go into effect June 1.

The town council is also considering a measure that would still allow drivers to use hands-free cellphones.

If the cellphone use ban is approved, it would be the first of its kind passed by a municipality in North Carolina. 

The proposal makes cellphone use behind the wheel a secondary offense, meaning an officer must first stop a vehicle for another reason before issuing a citation for violating the ban.

North Carolina state law prohibits drivers age 18 and under from using cellphones and also makes texting while driving illegal when a car is in motion. Ten states and the District of Columbia have bans on using hand-held cellphones while driving.

On Monday, the town council also voted to support a a resolution encouraging people to vote against a measure to ban same-sex marriage.

The measure would amend the state constitution to outlaw any legal union other than marriage between a man and woman. Current state law already defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

North Carolinians will vote on the proposed amendment May 8.