Police to Begin Issuing Citations Feb. 2

Posted on Feb 01, 2013

Handheld Cell Phone Ban in Effect

Amarillo, TX – The City of Amarillo’s “One Text or Call Could Wreck it All” education campaign continues to gain traction as citizens start to realize the importance of the City’s ordinance banning the use of handheld cell phones while driving. That ordinance went into effect Jan. 3. Since that time, police have allowed a grace period, issuing only warnings to those who have violated the new ordinance. As of Jan. 24, 35 warnings have been issued, according to the Amarillo Police Department. However, motorists need to be aware that starting this Saturday, Feb. 2, the grace period will end and police will instead issue citations. Violators could face a fine of up to $200 plus court costs.

Since the beginning of the year, City representatives have given presentations to several civic and business organizations detailing the ordinance as well as the dangers of distracted driving, particularly as it relates to the use of handheld cell phones.

“The feedback I’ve received from the community has been very positive and I’ve appreciated the opportunity to answer specific questions people have had relating to the ordinance,” says Sonja Gross, community relations coordinator. “One of the common misconceptions I’ve been able to dispel is that private citizens cannot use their handheld cell phone at all, and that government employees are exempt.”

In fact, drivers may use a handheld cell phone to call for fire, police or ambulance in case of a bona fide emergency. That means there must be imminent danger to life or safety. They may also call a doctor, hospital or clinic. This exception applies to government employees, first responders or volunteers as well, but only while acting in official capacity with an immediate need to give or receive necessary official information.

“The best solution is to use a hands-free feature or simply wait to make or take that call or text once you’ve reached your destination,” Gross says.

For more information about the ordinance, visit www.amarillo.gov  and click on the “One Text or Call Could Wreck It All” banner. That link will take you to a FAQ sheet, which answers many questions people have related to the ban on handheld cell phones while driving. A link to the ordinance itself is provided as well.

To schedule a guest speaker on this subject for your school, church, business or civic organization, please contact the Community Relations office at (806) 378-3549 or sonja.gross@amarillo.gov.

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