New cell phone law on the horizon

HOUSTON The law is meant to increase safety around schools and to create consistency statewide in school zones so that laws pertaining to cell phone use don't vary from area to area. But legal experts believe this new law actually makes cell phone use less restricted in West University.

When the city of West University Place last year enacted an ordinance banned all cell phone use, even hands free devices, within school zones, it was a first-of its-kind law. But it's about to lose some teeth.

Now its police department says the ordinance is being trumped by a state law that goes into effect next month, still banning cell phones and other wireless communication devices near schools, but allowing hands free use.

"If state law stipulates a certain thing, then that's the rule we must follow," said Lt. Thad Olive with the West University Place Police

The new statute is specific, stating that "the section preempts all local ordinances that are inconsistent with specific provision of the new law.

"The municipality laws as of September 1 don't exist anymore," said KTRK legal analyst Joel Androphy. "If they're on the books, get 'em off."

The new law requires municipalities to post signs alerting drivers of the new cell phone ban in school zones. Some such signs are already up in Sugar Land.

Some of those living in West University near schools who support the current ban find the new law and actions of legislators who created it, outlandish.

"I can't see how it can possibly be safe to drive and talk, even with a hands free device," said West University Place Resident Sue Seyffert.

The new law takes effect September 1 which banning all use of all cell phones and PDAs, unless with hands free devices. You can be fined up to $200 for a violation.

Find us on Facebook® | Follow us on Twitter | More social networking
ABC13 widget | Most popular stories | Street-level weather
ABC13 wireless | Slideshow archive | Help solve crimes

Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.