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Paris Police Department spokesman Curtis Garrett had a tip for parents who would be taking their children to school on Monday, or picking them up afterward:
Monday was the first day of school for area-schools after the summer break.
“I have it on good authority — on VERY good authority — that police will be around the schools, writing speeding tickets and writing tickets to drivers who are on their cell phones in a school zone,” Garrett said.
Using a cell phone in a school zone is punishable by a fine of up to $200.
School zone hours are from 7:15 a.m. to 8 a.m., and from 2:40 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.
The Paris City Council passed a city ordinance in 2008 banning drivers’ use of cell phones in school zones.
As of next Sunday, state regulations will become stiffer.
It is already against state law for drivers to use cell phones behind the wheel in active school zones, unless the veicle is stopped or the driver is using a hands-free device.
Effective Sept. 1, the ban has been extended to all school property, including parking lots and drop-off lanes. Violators face fines of up to $200.
There still are exceptions for stopped vehicles, hand-free devices, and emergency calls.
Also, effective Sunday, the penalty will increase for passing a school bus when its flashing lights and stop signs are active. The penalty used to be $200 to $1,000. The new range is $500 to $1,250.
In some areas, school buses are eqipped with cameras that capture violators who pass illegally. In Dallas County, for example, owners of those cars receive a mailed notice of a $300 fine. If a law enforcement officer pulls over a driver for the offense, the higher penalty will apply.
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra