Only four states in the U.S. currently ban cell phone use while driving. Florida appears ready to join the list, as the newest version of a bill banning all cell phone use while driving has just been filed. North Carolina will probably not be joining that list anytime soon.
Last year, during the 2011-2012 Legislative sessions, Garland Pierce, Democrat-Scotland, introduced a bill banning all cell phone use. The bill encountered significant opposition while it was in committee, most notably from Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger. Several committee members remarked that they felt the bill infringed on citizens' rights. What they could not articulate was which specific rights they felt the bill might be infringing upon. That outcry was enough to effectively kill the bill, as Representative Pierce withdrew the bill, rather than have it die a slow death in committee.
One town in North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has shown some independent responsibility by banning all cell phone use within the town's city limits. That sounds pretty strong, but the law had so many loopholes that it was really just a symbolic law aimed at spurring the North Carolina Legislature to act responsibly and pass a stronger state law restricting cell phone use. The Chapel Hill law was over-turned by a Superior Court Judge in August in a ruling that found the town ordinance was preempted by the current state law that limits cell phone use while driving.
Current North Carolina prohibitions:
* Text messaging prohibited for all drivers. Also outlawed: Email and Internet use.
* Drivers under the age of 18 with provisional licenses are prohibited from using cell phones while driving, unless calling parents.
* School bus operators prohibited from using cell phones while driving.
While the statistics on using a cell phone while driving are alarming, in that more and more people in North Carolina are dying as a result, our legislative leaders are unlikely to do anything about it in the Legislative Session that begins in January.
At Davis Law Group in Asheville, North Carolina, we repeatedly see the tragedy that using a cell phone while driving can cause. People's lives are permanently altered by a few irresponsible seconds with a cell phone in their, or someone else's, hand. You can view our other posts on this topic by clicking on this link. If you would like to discuss this issue with Attorney Brian Davis, feel free to call or email him. Consultations are free.