The city of Chapel Hill, NC will ban talking on a cell phone while driving starting June 1st. Although that's not an unusual measure, the Chapel Hill ban is the first in the country to apply to talking on hands-free headsets and speakerphone.
"If you have a Bluetooth, if you have a relatively new car with a dashboard that allows you to talk wirelessly, you can't use it," said city council member Laurin Easthom, who voted against the measure.
The ordinance, which narrowly passed by a city council vote of 5-4, applies to every street in town, including state-owned roads. Drivers will still be allowed to make emergency calls and talk to a spouse, parent or child.
Violators of the cell phone ban will be fined $25.
Although the ordinance has passed, it's possible that the ban may violate state law. An assistant attorney general told the town it couldn't regulate cell phone use because the state already has a "complete and integrated regulatory scheme."
North Carolina currently bans drivers under 18 from using cell phones and completely bans texting and emailing while driving, but doesn't have anything to say about drivers over 18 talking on phones or using Bluetooth headsets.