Sugar Land passes handsfree cell phone ordinance

By Janelle Bludau - Reporter
Copyright 2016 CNN

SUGAR LAND, Texas - It seems to be the popular place to make a call or answer your phone, or even send a text, but now in Sugar Land it could cost you big time bucks.

Council members have passed an ordinance at their meeting Tuesday night that prohibits the use of portable electronic devices while driving a vehicle in Sugar Land unless the device is in hands-free mode or being used for an emergency.

Portable electronic devices include mobile phones, personal digital assistants, MP3s or other hand-held music players, electronic reading devices, laptop computers, pagers, electronic game devices and more.

"It's hard to tell if they've had too much to drink, or if they're just using their cellphones because they're weaving all over the roads," driver Glenn Howard said.

That's why city council members in Sugar Land are putting their foot on the brake when it comes to distracted driving.

"It's been a long time coming. We actually started looking at this in 2015," Mayor Joe Zimmerman said.

"I think over time, we'll be able to have the data ... that will prove what what we believe will happen ... our streets will be safer for our residents," Zimmerman said.

Most drivers support the cause.

"If you're driving on a freeway and a cop catches you talking on your phone, then I think it's OK to get a ticket," driver Amreen Ali said.

"I see a lot of people texting and driving and swerving in lanes and causing accidents so I think this is a pretty good ordinance," driver Tasnim Momin said.

But when it comes to the possibility of a fine of up to $500, they were split.

"That's a little excessive. I don't think there should be a $500 fine for anything car related," Ali said.

"If you really want to get your point across and make the law make sense, I think you need to have a big fine and that will put an end to it," Howard said.

Sugar Land's new ordinance will take effect March 20, but drivers will be issued only warnings during the first 90 days. Following the grace period, any person found guilty of violating the ordinance will be fined up to $500 for each offense.

Here is a list of other cities with cellphone ordinances:

  • Angleton
  • Bellaire
  • Brazoria
  • Conroe
  • Deer Park
  • Galveston
  • Magnolia
  • Missouri City
  • Mont Belvieu
  • Shoreacres
  • Tomball
  • West University

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