Local News

Chapel Hill cellphone ban put on hold

Posted May 8, 2012 10:50 a.m. EDT
Updated May 8, 2012 11:24 a.m. EDT

— Durham Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson extended his ruling Tuesday that Chapel Hill cannot ban the use of a cellphone while driving. In March, Chapel Hill became the first municipality in North Carolina to ban use of cellphones, including hands-free devices, for all drivers. The ordinance would have taken effect June 1.

The first challenge to that law came from a local towing company, which argued that the cellphone ban is at odds with a law that drivers must call police to report when they tow a car. 

Hudson agreed with lawyers for George's Towing & Recovery Tuesday and made his injunction against the ban permanent. 

Tom Stark, the attorney for George's Towing, said the town council had exceeded its authority in initiating the ban, and that it would damage his client's business. "The phone is a lifeblood for this kind of business," he said. "This is not a big business with a dispatcher.

"There is not a grant of authority to Chapel Hill to regulate cell phones," Stark said.

Attorneys for the town pledged to work out the conflict between the towing ordinance and the cellphone ban before June 1, but Hudson was unmoved.

The next step for the ban is unclear.