PHILADELPHIA – Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter officially signed a bill April 30 banning the use of hand-held cell phones while driving, according to NBC Philadelphia. The deadline for him to reject the bill passed April 27, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal.
First-time offenders would be charged a $150 fine and $300 for second offenses, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal.
The law will go into effect immediately, but the city will delay enforcement while it launches an information campaign of unspecified duration, a spokeswoman said, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The legislation, unanimously approved by City Council on April 16, threatens $254.4 million in bridge and highway funds through 2012 from the state, including $65.7 million this year. Also in jeopardy is state funding for liquid fuel reimbursements, which Philadelphia received $24.6 million for this year on April 2, according to the Inquirer.
The House had voted down a proposal by state Rep. Josh Shapiro, D-Montgomery, that would have banned hand-held cell phone use altogether and made it a primary offense, meaning police would have been able to stop motorists solely for the violation, according to the Inquirer.
"It is imperative that we have statewide uniformity in our traffic laws here in Pennsylvania," said Rep. Rick Geist, R-Altoona, who included the provision to hold back liquid fuels funding and state capital highway and bridge funds from local governments that enact their own cell phone laws. "Motorists must be able to expect that these laws will be the same wherever they may travel within Pennsylvania's borders," Geist said, as reported by the Inquirer.