What Wausau's cell phone ban means for drivers - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

What Wausau's cell phone ban means for drivers

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WAUSAU (WAOW) - In Wausau, driving and talking on the phone will soon be no more.

The city council unanimously passed the cell phone ban Tuesday night. Council members say they hope the law discourages distracted driving. The law prohibits drivers from using hand-held electronic devices, but allows hands-free devices and GPS's, as long as drivers set their destinations beforehand.

Wausau Police will enforce the new ban, though questions remain about how.

"I don't know what the rules are, so I think they'll have to clarify that," said Laura Lawler of Wausau.

The Police Department did not return our calls to help explain how the law impacts drivers.

We asked the state patrol if they'd be on the lookout for drivers on the phone. Sergeants say because it's a city ordinance, they can't pull over someone for the new rule.

Wausau joins other central Wisconsin communities asking drivers to put down their phones. Wisconsin Rapids and Marshfield already have a ban in place. Marshfield adopted its cell phone ban in September of 2008. Since then, police say officers have issued 532 citations and 838 written warnings. Wisconsin Rapids Police say officers have issued 198 citations and 454 warnings, since its ban began in October 2011.

Communities close to Wausau are also considering a law against cell phone use while driving. According to government officials, some of the communities include: Rothschild, Schofield, Weston, and Kronenwetter.

However, throughout all of Wisconsin, it is illegal to text and drive.

"They had a problem with texting," said Daniel Krueger of Wausau. "They had a problem sitting on the phone not paying attention."

For some drivers, that's reason enough to put away their phones.

Tuesday night, Mayor Jim Tipple said the new law will come into effect once its published in a few days.

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