City Proposes Ordinance To Mirror State Texting Ban

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If you're caught texting or talking on a cellphone while driving in Parkersburg, it may actually cost you less than elsewhere in the state. 

City council Tuesday night passed the first reading of an ordinance to ban talking on cell phones or texting while driving.
An exception would be if the driver was using a hands-free device to talk.
Mayor Bob Newell says the ordinance mirrors a West Virginia that goes into effect July 1 that makes texting while driving a primary offense and talking on a cell phone a secondary offense. 
If enacted, Newell says the city's ordinance would mean offenders would answer to Parkersburg Municipal Court as opposed to the Wood County Magistrate Court.
"There shouldn't be much dissention because tickets through city court are much less expensive than if you go through the state magistrate system. It's as much as $80 less per ticket," said Newell.
Newell says the city retains some of the money from the citations, but won't make a profit off the tickets.
Regardless of who is enforcing the ban, he says, it's an issue that needs to be addressed.
"It is a problem, I mean I certainly have seen it be a problem.  I think we all have experienced somebody in front of us or behind of us, texting and weaving and everything like that. Yeah, it's a problem everywhere," said Newell.
West Virginia's law will also make using a non-hands free cell phone while driving a primary offense starting July 1, 2013.
The city ordinance is up for a second reading June 25.