Honolulu makes looking at electronic devices while crossing streets, highways illegal

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Make sure you put your phone away when you cross the street.

A new city ordinance makes it illegal for pedestrians to look at electronic devices while crossing the street. The law goes into effect on Wednesday, Oct. 25.

Bill 6 (2017), CD2, FD2, was authored by Councilmember Brandon Elefante, and signed into law by Mayor Kirk Caldwell on July 27, 2017.

Police have spent the past 90 days educating pedestrians of the new law.

“Your eyes looking down on your phone is so dangerous when you’re crossing the street, and a lot of pedestrians get hit by cars here and nationwide,” said Sgt. James Shyer of the Honolulu Police Department.

First-time violators can receive a fine from $15-$35. The range goes up to $35-$75 for the second offense, and $75-$99 if you’re caught breaking the law a third time within one year after the first infraction.

The fine may be relatively small, but you can’t just pay a ticket. You’ll have to appear in court.

“Right now it’s a court citation that could change in the future. That will be up to the courts whether or not they want to let you pay it,” said Shyer.

We double checked with Hawaii State Judiciary and sure enough, for a ticket as low as $15 you’ll need to go down to the courthouse.

It’s not just your phone. Some of the electronic devices that are included under the new law: text messaging devices, laptops, video games, even cameras.

You can, however, listen to music on a device and talk on your cell phone, provided that you’re not looking down at the device while doing so.

How will visitors be educated?

“It’s on a case by case basis I think most officers apply common sense and realize not everybody is aware of our laws,” said Shyer.

An officer said in an earlier report that bicyclists using the road need to follow traffic rules, like all drivers.

However, pedestrian laws apply for them when walking their bikes.

The law does have exceptions. You’re allowed to use your electronic device while contacting 911.

On-duty emergency responders are also allowed to view their electronic devices if the situation calls for it.

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