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Thailand: Use of Hand-Held Cell Phones at Red Lights Ruled Illegal

(Aug. 18, 2015) It was reported on August 2, 2015, that the fourth Standing Committee of Thailand’s Council of State has ruled that it is illegal for a driver stopped at a red light to talk on a hand-held mobile phone. (Thailand: Use of Mobile at Red Light Is Illegal, BANGKOK POST ONLINE (Aug. 2, 2015), Open Source Center online subscription database, ID No. SER2015080245894164.) The Council of State, a department under the aegis of the Prime Minister, advises government bodies and issues codified versions of laws and regulations. (Council of State Thailand Website, PRACTICAL LAW (last visited Aug. 14, 2015).)

The decision was issued, according to a former Supreme Court judge who commented on the ruling on his Facebook page, in response to an inquiry from the Royal Thai Police Office submitted to the Committee as to whether such an action constitutes a violation of section 43 of Thailand’s Land Traffic Act. According to section 43, a driver is prohibited from talking on a cell phone while driving, unless he or she is using a hands-free device. (Thailand: Use of Mobile at Red Light Is Illegal, supra; Land Traffic Act, B.E. 2522 (1979) (Mar. 15, 1979, as amended), Office of the Council of State of Thailand website (in Thai).)

After discussing the question with a group of representatives of the agencies concerned, the Committee reached the conclusion that “although a vehicle is stopped at a red light, the driver is regarded as still being in control of it and must be ready to move off when the light turns green. Talking on a phone without using a talking aid device while at a red light therefore means the driver is regarded as violating the traffic law.” (Id.)