Cell phone ban to take effect in Rhinelander - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Cell phone ban to take effect in Rhinelander

RHINELANDER (WAOW) -- You'll have to put down your cell phone while driving through one more north central Wisconsin community.

There's a new cell phone ban for drivers in Rhinelander.

Both city and police officials say they're optimistic about the positive effect this new law will have.

They say they looked to other central Wisconsin cities like Wausau and Marshfield for guidance on how to get drivers to put down their phones.

It's a distraction many of us know all too well.

"I mean, I guess I shouldn't be talking on the phone when I'm in the car driving my kids around," said Kerry Hagen Manske of Rhinelander.

The city council passed the ordinance Monday night.

"They felt this was a serious issue," said Blaine Oborn, Rhinelander's city administrator. "There were danger issues with people driving with cell phones."

If you're caught on your phones, city leaders say you'll face a fine of $75. It's something that will have people thinking twice.

"It's high enough that it will make people not do it and it's not so high that it's unreasonable," said Hagen Manske.

Police say they understand there will be an adjustment.

"What we intend to do is have a period of time where we're going to use that time period to educate the public," said Capt. Ron Lueneburg of the Rhinelander Police Department.

They say people will usually get off with a warning during this grace period.

There will be times though when it's okay to talk.

"If people are calling 911, that does not apply to the ordinance," Lueneburg said. "If there's an emergency, or if people have hands-free capabilities in their vehicles, it won't be a violation."

Hagen Manske says she has a hands-free device, but it's not always the perfect option.

"If the kids are crying, I would rather talk on the phone when I'm driving than on the Bluetooth," she said.

She says the ban will affect how she uses her phone in the car.

"It's going to cross your mind to not answer it and call them back whenever you get where you're going," Hagen Manske said.

Police officers say they hope everyone in Rhinelander can have a similar attitude.

"Not only is it a violation of ordinance, but first and foremost it's a safety issue," said Lueneburg.

There were three city council members who voted against this new rule. None of them was available for comment.

Officers won't start pulling people over until the law is on the books which city officials say should be in 2 weeks.

They also said the grace period of warnings will last until sometime around Labor Day.
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