Pocatello, Idaho Falls, Hailey and Ketchum have already banned the use of handheld cell phones behind the wheel. Until Tuesday night, no cities in the Treasure Valley had passed a similar ordinances. 

That changed when Mayor Tammy cast a tie-breaking vote that made Meridian the first city in our area to make any use of a handheld device behind the wheel a punishable offense.  According to the Idaho Press, under the new ordinance anyone using a handheld device behind the wheel of a vehicle that is in the lane of traffic will be subject to a $90 fine. The infraction applies to vehicles even when they are not in motion.

The ban comes with public support as nearly three quarters of respondents to a Meridian Nextdoor survey said they thought that using or holding cell phones behind the wheel should be illegal.

The ordinance does not apply if someone is using their phone in a hands-free situation like bluetooth mode, looking for directions without handling the phone (like asking Siri to find directions to the nearest gas station through Apple Car Play) and emergency situations.