Smyrna passes temporary hands-free ordinance

A view of The Smyrna Museum in downtown Smyrna, Ga., from April 25, 2009. (Photo by Todd DeFeo)

SMYRNA, Ga. — City leaders in this Atlanta suburb voted yesterday to prohibit drivers from using handheld mobile telephones or portable electronic devices while behind the wheel.

The ordinance, sponsored by City Councilman Derek Norton, takes effect April 2 and remains in effect until May 31, 2020, “unless sooner repealed.” Drivers who violate the ordinance, if approved as is, face a fine up to $150.

“Do I think this is going to correct or fix things? No. But I think this is going to be the beginning. We’ll be the first city in the state of Georgia to have this ordinance,” WSB Radio quoted Mayor Max Bacon as saying. Bacon cast the tie-breaking vote; the ordinance passed by a 4-3 margin.

As part of the measure, the city notes “the Georgia Legislature, to date, has partially addressed not enacted legislation fully covering the prohibition of handheld mobile telephones and portable electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle.”

According to a Wednesday email from City Administrator Tammi Saddler Jones Smyrna police have magnetic phone holders for vehicles that allow drivers to “safely secure your phone for hands-free operation.“ A limited supply of the holders is available at the police station on 2646 Atlanta Road for Smyrna residents.

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