West U To Enforce State Law Tuesday

August 25, 2009

A new state law that takes effect September 1 trumps West University Place’s ban on cell phone use in the city’s only school zone.

West University Place police are not enforcing the City’s year-old ban on cell phones — including hands-free devices —  since the new law takes effect in just a few days.  Although recent studies indicated that conversations on hands-free devices can be very distracting to drivers, the state Legislature’s cell phone ban allows the use of such devices.

“There’s no reason to write citations under an ordinance that is going to go away Monday,” said West U Police Chief Ken Walker. “Technically, we could, but we aren’t doing that. It’s going to change in a few days anyway.”

West U Police will begin enforcing the new state law on Tuesday, September 1.

West U City Manager Michael Ross said police wrote 14 citations last year under the City’s cell-phone ordinance, which attracted nationwide attention for banning phones and hands-free devices. There were no complaints about the city ordinance, Ross said.

Walker said he thinks that hands-free devices still aren’t safe.

“I think they may be safer than using a phone without them. But I still think they are a distraction,” Walker said.

Walker noted that the school zone near West U Elementary is only three to four blocks.

“I think you can manage not to use a cell phone or any kind of communication device for three blocks without missing any information or emergency calls,” Walker said.

West U’s sprinkler ordinance, which would have required building sprinklers in some new homes, also was changed by the state Legislature. 

The Legislature’s changes still don’t sit well with some West U officials.

“We are certainly growing tired of the hypocritical state Legislature that whines about the federal government telling states to do what they don’t like, and yet they turn around and do the same or worse to local government,” Ross said.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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