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City of Jersey City

Office of the Mayor
September 21, 2000

Mayor Schundler Vetoes Cell Phone Ban

Jersey City
Mayor Bret Schundler today vetoed an ordinance passed by the City Council on September 13 th that would have banned the use of cell phones while driving within city limits.

In a letter to the members of the municipal council, who voted 7 to 1 for the ordinance with one member absent, the Mayor acknowledged the “good intentions” of the Council to promote traffic safety and then explained his decision to exercise the veto power.

“Existing traffic regulations already provide police officers with the discretion to cite drivers engaged in careless or reckless behavior, regardless of whether such behavior is caused by talking on a cellular phone, adjusting their radio, looking at a map, or any other activity which endangers the public or disrupts the safe and orderly flow of traffic,” wrote Mayor Schundler.

He also pointed out that no conclusive evidence exists regarding the danger of cell phone use while driving, but that if such hazards are proven true, then banning cell phones should be addressed at the statewide level. Adopting such bans at the municipal level would lead to confusion among New Jersey's motorists as they traverse the State's numerous municipalities.

“It is simply unfair and impractical to expect drivers to learn which of New Jersey's 566 municipalities permit them to drive while speaking on their cellular phones and which do not.”

Lastly, the Mayor is concerned about the prospect of the City having to defend itself in court against lawsuits seeking to overturn the ban. He suggests that it would be prudent to wait on the outcome of pending litigation related to similar ordinances passed in New Jersey and Pennsylvania before Jersey City exposes the taxpayers to potentially significant legal costs.

If the City Council chooses to do so, it can override the Mayor's veto with a two-thirds vote of the nine-member council.

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