Philly Cell Phone Ban In Effect, Not Enforced

Nutter signed ban -- enforcement begins in November

If you're behind the wheel or on wheels, stop texting or talking when you're passing through Philly or it'll cost you.

Mayor Nutter signed the city's cell phone ban Thursday at 4 p.m. It's supposed to go into effect "immediately" but apparently the Mayor's office didn't get the memo -- the new law automatically went into effect over the weekend according to the Philadelphia Business Journal.

But, you won't be forced to hang up right away. The new ban won't be enforced until November 1, the Mayor's office said Thursday afternoon.

The city delayed enforcement because it wants to push out an informational campaign first, according to the Inky.

The new ban means drivers, bikers, rollerbladers, skateboarders and even those of you on scooters can be ticketed for texting or talking on handheld devices. First time offenders face a $150 fine and that doubles if you get caught using again.

The city stands to lose millions in state funding for enacting the cell phone ban, according to the Journal. State lawmakers are trying to pass a law that makes driver distractions "secondary" offenses, which means if you get pulled over for something else (like speeding) and you're texting or talking, you can also be ticketed for that.

The bill was passed by the house and sent to the senate. If it becomes law, it would allow the state to withhold funding from cities that enacted their own driver distraction laws. For Philly, that kind of money adds up to about $280 million over the next three years, according to the Journal.

“It is imperative that we have statewide uniformity in our traffic laws here in Pennsylvania,” Rep. Rick Geist, R-Altoona said in the report. “Motorists must be able to expect that these laws will be the same wherever they may travel within Pennsylvania’s borders.”

The state law is a little broader because it includes eating and other factors that take your eyes off the road. It also has stricter guidelines for teen drivers.

Philly Council unanimously passed its law and no one's screaming, "Wait a minute!"

"We will always follow state law, but the state law as it is currently written is highly ambiguous, and explicitly authorizes certain local vehicle regulation,” a spokesman for the Mayor told the Journal.

Contact Us