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Category:  Press » Legal

 

Cell Phone Litigation: Signs Promote Activity Which the City Calls 'Illegal'

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2008-06-11 04:56:04     
Horwitz, Richardson & Baker, LLC

Plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit challenging the City's cell phone ban are now claiming that the failure to post signs notifying drivers of the law is just part of the problem. The lawsuit, filed last December, alleged that Illinois law requires municipalities, such as the City of Chicago, to post signs of local ordinances which are different from their neighboring municipalities. To date, no signs have been posted warning drivers of the cell phone ban.

"It is odd, to say the least, that the City is reluctant to post these signs. Letting drivers know that they cannot use their cell phones while driving would serve the City's stated purpose of providing safer roadways throughout Chicago. Instead, the City's constant ticketing for this un- posted regulation is merely used as a revenue raiser," says Blake Horwitz, attorney for the Plaintiffs.

The absence of warning signs is suspicious, particularly when there are signs throughout Chicago that seem to encourage drivers to use their cell phones. These signs read "CELL PHONE USERS DIAL *999 TO REPORT EMERGENCIES" and appear on roadways through the City. As Mr. Horwitz explains, "a person driving through Chicago could read these signs and assume, logically, that they are free to use cell phones while driving and, as option, can dial *999 to report emergencies." Though the Ordinance permits use of the cell phone in cases of emergencies, the signs are ambiguous. For example, they don't clarify: "Use cell phones only in case of emergency." The City almost entraps people to use the cell phone and then ticket them for such usage.

Another problem with the ordinance, the suit claims, is that the cell phone ordinance prohibits people from dialing their phone, using a speaker phone, using your cell phone as a GPS, as an MP3 player - or does it? No one knows. "Even if you use an ear piece, in actuality, there is no method to use a cell phone completely 'hands free' as your hands are necessary to dial, hang up etc". The same is true for the use of the speaker phone or GPS and so on. Hence, you can be while using a 'hands free' device, as there really is no such thing. The law is inherently ambiguous and should be declared as void for vagueness.

As of last summer, when the suit was filed, the City had generated millions of dollars from issuing cell phone tickets. Drivers cited for violating the ban are fined $75, or up to $200 if the driver is involved in an accident.

Specialized in: Cell Phone Litigation - Signs Promote Activity - Illegal
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