Howell chief will review proposed cell phone law

Staff Writer

By Kathy Baratta

Howell chief will review
proposed cell phone law

HOWELL — Once input from the chief of police is received, Howell officials may consider enacting a municipal ordinance that would prohibit the use of hand-held mobile and cellular telephones by anyone operating a motor vehicle.

Last year Marlboro became the first community in New Jersey to place such a law on the books. Several other Garden State municipalities have since followed suit.

Most recently, New York Gov. George Pataki signed a law banning the use of hand-held phones by people operating motor vehicles anywhere in New York state.

When asked if he was in favor of such an ordinance being enacted in Howell, Police Chief Ronald Carter said he had not been involved with the development of the ordinance and would reserve any comment until he had a chance to review it.

After stating that "some people want it," Mayor Timothy J. Konopka observed at a Township Council meeting last month that he was not convinced the proposed ordinance was a good idea.

"I mean, where do we draw the line?" Konopka asked, noting that a crying baby or drinking a cup of coffee in a moving vehicle can constitute a distraction to a driver.

Aside from these initial remarks from the mayor when the ordinance was originally placed on a council agenda in June, the mayor and council have not yet held a public hearing on the matter.

Konopka, in a follow-up interview, said that since there is an existing careless driving law on the books which can be used by an officer when he believes it is warranted, perhaps the cell phone ordinance may be unnecessary overkill.

"At this point in time I’d like to see what kind of input we get," Konopka said.

The penalty proposed for a violation of the Howell cell phone ordinance would be a $250 fine.

The matter is expected to be revisited by the mayor and council in August.