Several months after passing a city ordinance banning cellphone use while driving, Glendale city councilmembers decided to switch to using the new state law language when citing drivers.
The main difference between the city and state ordinances is that the state law allows drivers to use their phones while stopped for train crossings.
Councilmembers ultimately gave consensus to adopt the recently passed legislation, though numerous questions were asked on how to handle the change.
“If we change our language to mirror what is coming into effect by the state, can we enforce immediately or do we have to wait (until January 2021)?” Cholla Councilwoman Lauren Tolmachoff asked at the meeting.
“If we change our language, we can enforce now,” answered Police Chief Rick St. John.
“I think we should adopt the (state’s) language, but continue enforcing,” Tolmachoff followed.
Passed in April, HB 2318 prohibits drivers from using any kind of wireless communication device while driving — whether talking, texting, typing or browsing social media sites — unless the device is in hands-free mode.
The new law not only applies to cellphones, but any kind of portable wireless communication or standalone electronic device.
Drivers are subject to a warning, but tickets will not be issued until January 2021.
The Glendale ordinance, passed in January, also bans cellphone use behind the wheel, with the exception of those using a hands-free function. Unlike the state legislation, Glendale’s ordinance would not allow drivers to use devices while stopped at a red light or train tracks.
Under the city’s ordinance, violators would be fined $250 for each offense, while the state will charge first-time offenders between $75 and $149, and subsequent offenders $150 to $250.
Under the state’s decision, the city can continue with its hands-free ordinance or change to the state’s law immediately. In January 2021, all cities must begin to follow the state’s law.
“This is something we don’t need confusion on with the public, and I am encouraged that the Legislature after a decade has shown that this is important,” Mayor Jerry Weiers said.
“I do believe we should adopt the state’s language immediately and maybe take it one step further and educate the citizens, because if the goal is to stop texting and driving we need a strong campaign to let people know we are enforcing and not doing what the state is … We need to let the public know that we are not issuing warnings, but issuing violations.”