Special report: Call me crazy - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Special report: Call me crazy

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Wausau (WAOW) -- Wausau's new cell phone ban can be confusing. The purpose of this story is to help explain what exactly the rules are, not to debate whether the law is a good one.

Reading this sign, in Wausau you have to park, to talk.

In February the Wausau City Council voted to make it illegal for drivers to use their cell phones while driving. Well, sort of.

The law reads a driver cannot hold a cell phone, iPod, iPad, or any other electronic device while behind the wheel.

“The view distraction and having something in your hands, that's the primary concern," said Lt. Nathan Pekarske with the Wausau Police department.

But even officers admit, the rest can get a little confusing.

“Not everybody knows where those dividing lines are," said Pekarske.

So, we want to figure it out for you. We asked Lt. Pekarske for help.

“Can I hold the phone to my ear?” I asked.

“Nope,” Lt. Pekarske answered.

"Can I have it on speakerphone and hold it in my hand?”

“No," Pekarske answered.

“Can I put it on speakerphone and put it on my lap?"

"As long as you put it on speakerphone when you're not driving, yes."

“Can I put it on speakerphone, put it on my lap, and then hold my hand to my ear?”

"You absolutely could,” said Pekarske.

What about location? The ban is in effect throughout Wausau city limits. That means these city streets, and these back roads.

But, it does not apply to county or state highways.

“It is specific to the city of Wausau,” said Pekarske. “But any county or state road that leads into the city, the ordinance would be in effect for that.”

There are other exceptions, like an emergency.

"Whatever it might be, if you need to call 911 to report an emergency you are absolutely allowed to do that at anytime,” said Pekarske.

But, for most part you need to be hands-free. So what can you do? One way is syncing your cell phone to your car so you can answer or hang up with just your steering wheel.

“I really think technology will make it a lot easier for people to be in compliance with this law," said Pekarske.

Another solution? Using a Bluetooth device. In just a few pushes you can use your cell phone hands-free.

“It's a minor behavior change. We're not stopping you from making phone calls in your vehicle," said Pekarske.

Since the ban went into effect the Wausau police department has issued 120 warnings.

“Hopefully we stop one person and then that word gets out to their family, and friends,” said Pekarske.

But, after Memorial Day those warnings could turn into tickets.

"We figure that's about three months of time, there's been plenty of media articles, we're going to have plenty of warnings out there, hopefully most people will begin to get the hang of it," said Pekarske.

Get the hang, of hanging up.

The cell phone ban is a primary offense. That means if an officer sees you on your phone, they can pull you over. A ticket costs just more than 100 dollars.

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