Trailblazing city cell phone ordinance already faces problems

5:36 PM, May 4, 2012   |    comments
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VILLA RICA, GA-- Villa Rica isn't the only place in Georgia where some folks view rampant cell phone use by drivers of cars and trucks as an issue.

"'Cause people pay more attention to their cell phones and texts than their driving!" said Nicole Arnold, who works in Villa Rica at a child care facility.

The difference is that Villa Rica's city council is at least trying to do something about it, by passing an ordinance banning the behind-the-wheel use of hand-held cell phones.  Motorists ticketed would pay a fine of $75.

But the ordinance is raising questions-- even with Woody Holland, the city council member who sponsored it.

"Every other road except I-20," said Holland.  "That's a different situation."

More than two and a half miles of I-20 runs through the city of Villa Rica.  Although city officials considered placing signs on the highway warning motorists about the cell phone restriction, Holland says it would be unfair to ticket motorists for violating a city cell phone ordinance that doesn't apply elsewhere.

"I think it would be very difficult to enforce that in the ordinance, if not impossible," Holland said.

Which means, Holland says, his new cell phone ordinance probably already needs a re-write.

"We change ordinances. It's not a big issue here," Holland said.

Villa Rica's may be the first city council in Georgia to push through a restriction on cell phone use by motorists according to the Georgia municipal association. 

It may also be the first to be vetoed.  Mayor J. Allen Collins says he's likely to veto part or all of the ordinance.  Collins tells 11 Alive News he thinks the fine is too steep.  He also says he has a problem with Villa Rica as an "island" municipality legislating an issue that Collins says may deserve statewide attention instead.

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