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What do signs that say "Cellphone use prohibited" in school zones mean? 

Hey Blake,

I've noticed that some school zones include signs that say "Cellphone use prohibited." What does that mean? Are fines stiffer if you use a cellphone in a school zone?

Darla

Dear Darla,

In 2014, Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law a bill prohibiting the use of mobile phones in designated school zones during certain hours. That includes using the phone for talking, texting or accessing social media.

  Over the years, as mobile phone use became more commonplace, there have been numerous attempts to enact such a law. The 2014 bill was authored by then-state Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Bossier City. He said it was designed to ensure the safety of children and would cause only a minor inconvenience for drivers. "When you are in a school zone, I like for you to have both of your hands on the wheel," Thompson said during a legislative hearing on the bill.

  The school zones where phone use is prohibited must have signs noting the ban, which does not apply to hands-free devices or various types of radios. There are some exceptions to the ban. You can use your cellphone in a school zone if you are reporting an accident or crime. A driver also can use a phone in a school zone if he is sitting in a parked car.

  Those caught violating the ban are fined up to $175 for the first offense and $500 for subsequent offenses. If the driver is involved in a crash while on a cellphone, the fine can be doubled.

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