PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia’s ban on handheld cell phone use while driving remains fully in effect, according to local officials, despite a ruling late last week that overturned a similar law in Allentown, Pa.

A Lehigh County judge tossed out Allentown’s year-old law that bans handheld cell phone use while driving, with the judge citing that the state, not a city, has jurisdiction over motor vehicle use.

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Here in Philadelphia, the ban on handheld cell phone use while driving is two years old, but has not yet been challenged in court. And Martha Johnston, a senior attorney in the city’s Law Department, says the Lehigh County ruling has no effect here.

“It’s a ruling of a county judge from a different county, and it has no precedent outside of that county that Philadelphia would be bound by,” she told KYW Newsradio this morning.

Philadelphia’s cell phone law was written so that infractions are code violations, not moving violations, a tactic aimed at avoiding the jurisdictional issue that doomed the Allentown law.

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And Johnston says the Nutter administration believes this city has the power to regulate cell phone usage in this way.

“We analyzed our authority to pass the cell phone ban, and concluded that we could do it. We’re a city with Home Rule authority, and we determined that it came within our authority,” she said.

Reported by KYW City Hall Bureau chief Mike Dunn

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