RALEIGH — A North Carolina appeals court is allowing Chapel Hill to start enforcing its first-in-the-nation ban on using a cellphone while driving.

A three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that a trial judge was wrong when he blocked the local ordinance from taking effect. The judge had sided with a towing company owner, who argued he must use a mobile phone to report each vehicle towed to police.

The appeals court noted that the ordinance banning drivers from using even hands-free sets didn’t bar calls from parked vehicles.

The ordinance could be enforced only if an officer first stops a vehicle for another reason. Violators would be fined $25.

The appeals court says someone can challenge the local law after it’s enforced.

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