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Rhinelander drivers get smaller driving and talking fines

RHINELANDER, Wis. (WXPR) -- Drivers in Rhinelander won't be nicked as much money if they get caught driving with a cellphone in their hand.

Last month, the city joined several others in the state banning the use of a hand-held cellphone while driving. Police Chief Michael Steffes initially thought a fine of $75 dollars would be appropriate, but because of other legalities involved came back with a proposal like the seat belt fine of $10.

Steffes says officers will stop a vehicle if they see the cell phone being used.  "If an officer sees somebody talking on the telephone they have a phone to their ear, they know they are violating the ordinance and initiate a traffic stop."

Hands-free devices would be permitted. Steffes says buying one of the hands-free devices is much cheaper in the long run than having to go through the hassle of a ticket.

As soon as the new ordinance is published it will go into effect.  First time violators will have the option of proving they have a hands-free device when the ticket will be torn up.