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Rhinelander passes cellphone ban for drivers

RHINELANDER, Wis. (WXPR) -- Add Rhinelander to the list of communities where driving while talking on the cellphone can get you in trouble. A split city council voted to allow police to stop drivers from using cellphones while motoring.

Council member George Kirby asked for the ordinance. Personal injury attorney Peter Young told the council in the cases he's seen, cell use contributed to distracted driving and favored the ordinance.  "It's something that gives discretion to law enforcement of icers to decide whether they're going to pull somebody over for a very specific instance of distracted driving before something bad happens."

Some city council members weren't so sure. Sherri Belliveau said this was just one example of distracted driving.  "I've driven by many people who are putting on makeup, eating, other activities. Where do we draw the line?"

Council member Joe Salzer felt the current distracted driving rules covered the situation without adding a specific law on cell phones.

The council voted 5-­3 to pass the cell phone use while driving ban. Police Chief Michael Steffes indicated there will be a grace period before forfeitures will be issued. He says signs will be posted to alert drivers to the new ban.

­­­­Marshfield, Wisconsin Rapids, and Wausau have similar cellphone restrictions.