The D.C. City Council Tuesday afternoon gave final approval to a bill making it illegal to use a hand-held cell phone while behind the wheel. There will be exceptions for emergencies.

Ward One Councilman Jim Graham was the lone dissenter. Graham has expressed concern about using police resources to enforce the law.

The measure now goes to Mayor Tony Williams, who has indicated he will sign it. Assuming he does, enforcement would likely begin in July. Violators would face $100 tickets.

Since no study I’ve seen actually supports the idea that using a hands-free device is any safer than holding the phone in one’s hand, this seems like a silly law. Especially since it’s virtually impossible to drive anywhere in DC faster than 5 mph anyway.

I wonder whether the Council has the authority to make this law, anyway. Their ability to enact legislation is rather limited, given the city’s status as a federal reservation.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. seniorblogger says:

    The DC City Council should have more important issues to deal with than drivers using cell phones. They should be dealing with the crime and corruption that is destroying the moral fabric of the city.