LIHU‘E — After months of legal wrangling, language tinkering and one false finish, a safety-minded ban on handheld electronic use while driving is now the law of the land.
Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. on Tuesday signed Bill No. 2336 into law, starting the three-month countdown to the now-official effective date of May 23, his office announced.
The definition of “mobile electronic device” includes cell phones, text messaging devices, paging devices, personal digital assistants, laptop computers, video games and cameras and excludes audio equipment or navigation equipment installed in a vehicle and video entertainment for passengers.
Two-way radios — a term that does not cover push-to-talk phones — used for business purposes shall not be banned.
The bill defines “use or using” to mean “holding a mobile electronic device while operating a motor vehicle.”
Hands-free devices like Bluetooth will be allowed by the law, although specific references endorsing similar technologies in the original version of the legislation were removed after bill introducer Derek Kawakami determined it was unclear if it is handheld electronics use specifically or distracted driving in general that creates dangerous conditions on the roads.
The Kaua‘i Police Department will be authorized to issue $50 citations for violations. That amount doubles to $100 for violations in school zones or construction work areas.
The Kaua‘i County Council passed the bill on second reading last week — for the second time. Both Council Services and the Office of the Mayor confirmed Tuesday that the bill takes effect three months, rather than 90 days, after the bill is signed.