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Pennsylvania judge overturns ban on driving while phoning

SHARE Pennsylvania judge overturns ban on driving while phoning

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. — A town ordinance banning motorists from using handheld cell phones has been overturned by a judge who said it bucked state traffic laws.

Common Pleas Judge David Heckler granted a motion Tuesday to dismiss the charge against a man cited in February for using his cell phone while driving through Hilltown Township, near Philadelphia. Dan Young, 42, argued that the law should be uniform statewide, saying he did not know about the ordinance and had not been aware he was in Hilltown. "I am very concerned about safety. I think this is just kind of punitive," Young said. Hilltown's ban was enacted in December, a month after 2-year-old Morgan Lee Pena died when a driver who was using a cell phone allegedly ran a stop sign.

The ordinance carries a $75 fine. Exceptions are allowed for dialing 911, "hands-free" phones or for people using phones while their vehicles are parked.

Several countries have banned the use of cell phones while driving. A 1997 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that talking on a phone while driving quadrupled the risk of an accident and was almost as dangerous as being drunk behind the wheel.