Miami-Dade County Bans Hand-Held Cell Phones While Driving
Miami-Dade County commissioners on Sept. 25, 2001 passed a law that bars drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. The law, approved by a 6-5 vote, goes into effect next September after a yearlong public awareness campaign on the dangers of dialing while driving.In passing the law, Miami-Dade becomes the first county in Florida to place restrictions on cell phone use.It also joins New York, which became the first state to ban the use of hand-held cellular phones while driving. The state passed the law after three counties – Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester – en-acted their own local bans.“I don’t want to have one more death on my conscience because someone used a cell telephone while driving,” said Commissioner Barbara Carey-Shuler, who sponsored the bill. “We’re going to educate people, but we need to let people know by policy and by law that we are very serious.”Those who break the law could be fined $250 or be required to attend a driver-improvement course.Whether Florida might follow Miami-Dade’s lead remains unlikely. Although similar bans have been proposed in 42 other states, they have not passed. Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, filed legislation this year for a statewide ban on the use of hand-held cell phones in cars, but the legislative leadership was not receptive to the idea. Slosberg said on Sept. 25 that he doubts anyone else will file similar legislation and that he is not interested in placing any restrictions on business so long as the cell phone companies fulfill a recent promise to distribute hands-free devices.