New Wireless Device Ordinance Goes Into Effect Thursday

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Soon Wichita Falls drivers will face a potential $500 penalty if they are caught with a cell phone in their hand behind the wheel. 
When it comes down to it it's like any other traffic violation, if an officer sees the violation occur then they will take appropriate action," said Wichita Falls Police Public Information Officer Sgt. Harold McClure.
On Thursday March 23rd Wichita Falls Police officers will begin enforcing a new ordinance that bans the use of hand-held devices by drivers on city roads. 
"It's really no different than if you run a stop sign change lanes without signal if the officer sees it then it is probable cause for the officer to initiate a traffic stop. You can utilize your phone, you can talk on your phone, carry on a conversation like you always have, you just have to ensure that you are not holding that cell phone," said McClure. 
The ordinance doesn't just apply to drivers. In fact, it applies to anyone that's moving people or property.

The actual text of the ordinance reads:
Sec. 102-67. General Requirements.

(a) An operator of a vehicle may not use a wireless communication device for any purpose while operating a vehicle on any street or highway within the City of Wichita Falls, unless employing a hands-free device.

(b) This section does not apply to:

1.  An operator of an authorized emergency vehicle using a wireless communication device while acting in an official capacity;
2.  An operator who is licensed by the Federal Communications Commission while operating a radio frequency device other than a wireless communication device;
3.  An operator using a wireless communication device who is legally parked; or
4.  An operator who is using a wireless communication device while the vehicle is on private property.

According to the WFPD website in 2016 of the 2,474 accidents investigated by Wichita Falls police in the city, 27 involved people who admitted that cell phones and/or texting were a contributing factor in causing the accidents. And in 2016 there were 26 cell phone related accidents. You can learn more by heading to the WFPD Wireless Communication Device Ordinance website page by clicking HERE!