Driving on your Oahu visit? What you need to know about the new cell phone law.


Planning to drive on your next Oahu visit?

You should know you that as of July 1, 2009, it will be illegal to use mobile electronic devices such as iPhones, BlackBerrys, digital cameras and iPods while behind the wheel of an automobile on Oahu.

The ban intends to reduce the number of traffic accidents linked to use of mobile devices. According to the Honolulu Police Department’s Web site, the act of “using” a mobile device under the new law simply means “holding it while operating a motor vehicle.” Hands-free devices are acceptable. You can still use an iPod or other portable music device in your car as long as you do not handle its interface while driving.

Unlike California and New York, which implemented statewide cell phone driving bans, the law here applies only to the island of Oahu. Once in effect, police officers won’t let anyone—residents and visitors alike—off the hook with a warning, said HPD officials.

The fine is $67 for a first offense. Subsequent infractions could cost as much as $500.

Click here for all the details you’ll need to know about the upcoming ban.

There are some exceptions to the new rules. Drivers can legally make emergency phone calls to 911 and use walkie-talkie-like systems for work-related calls.

Police officers, however, won’t know the difference between these calls and an illegal one. So ticketed drivers will have to show proof to a judge in court—either in the form of a cell phone bill or letter from an employer—confirming the call was legit.

Our best advice? Get yourself a Bluetooth headset before your Oahu vacation.

Categories: Oʻahu