You are here:  Main / Customer Services / Public Communications Division / 2009 / Mayor Hannemann Approves Historic Driver Safety Ordinance



Mayor Mufi Hannemann today signed into law Hawaii’s first ban on the use of electronic devices by drivers, which will take effect on July 1.


Bill 4, CD 2, FD1, prohibits the use of cellular phones without a hands-free device while operating a motor vehicle. The measure also prohibits text messaging, the use of laptop computers, e-mailing and electronic game-playing while driving. Violators will be subject to fines of $15 to $100, as determined by the state District Court.


“This historic and comprehensive legislation was carefully crafted to help improve public safety on our streets and highways,” Mayor Hannemann said. “Our intent is to ensure drivers keep their attention focused on the road, where it belongs. We all must be more careful and more considerate of other drivers and of pedestrians, especially the elderly, children and the disabled.”


The legislation exempts emergency responders such as police officer and firefighters who are performing official duties. Also exempted is the use of two-way radios while performing work-related duties, such as operating a taxi cab. Drivers holding a valid amateur radio operator license issued by the Federal Communications Commission and using a half-duplex two-way radio are also exempted.


The measure does not prohibit the use of a vehicle’s audio equipment (radio, CD player) or navigational equipment, or equipment installed for the purpose of providing emergency assistance to the vehicle operator or video entertainment to the passengers in the vehicle’s rear seats.


“This is well-crafted and comprehensive legislation that takes into account concerns by police, prosecutors, drivers, amateur radio operators and businesses,” Mayor Hannemann said. “I thank the City Council and everyone who participated in achieving this reasonable consensus to improve public safety.”


The City Council approved the measure on April 24 by a vote of 6 to 1, with one absence and one vacancy.


Mayor Hannemann had vetoed an earlier measure, Bill 67, which would have prohibited only text messaging and game-playing by drivers. Police and prosecutors had determined that such a narrow ban would be very difficult to enforce. Bill 4 was subsequently introduced by Council Members Rod Tam and Donovan Dela Cruz.



Media contact: Bill Brennan, Mayor’s Office, 768-6928