Judge halts restriction on cell phone usage while driving

News on the local cell phone usage case emerges.

By Lena Wilson

A judge put a hold on Chapel Hill’s ban on cell phone use while driving.

The law that was to take effect June 1 was halted by an injunction issued by North Carolina Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson.  Along with the cell phone law, the injunction also halted a towing ordinance that took effect on May 1.  The law includes a provision requiring towers to report to police each towed vehicle at the time it is towed.

George’s Towing and Recovery sued Chapel Hill over both the cell phone ban and the towing law.  The company sued because the towing law requires a call using a mobile phone, but the cell phone ordinance makes such an action illegal.  George’s Towing and Recovery claims that the two laws violate North Carolina’s state constitution.

“The legislature cannot pass a local act to regulate trade or commerce,” said Thomas Stark, the attorney of George’s Towing and Recovery, in an interview with the News and Observer.

The halted cell phone ban would prohibit Chapel Hill drivers from using handheld and hands-free phones, with the exception of calls to spouses, parents, children or emergency assistance.  Currently, the only cell phone limitations on Chapel Hill drivers are an age-blind ban on texting and a ban on all phone use for drivers under 18.

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