In an age when nearly everyone has a cell phone in possession at all times, it is no surprise New Hampshire and other states have enacted laws pertaining to the use of electronic devices, namely cell phones, while operating a motor vehicle. New Hampshire joined 43 states and the District of Columbia be passing a law banning texting and driving. The Granite State now joins 12 other states and the District of Columbia by passing legislation prohibiting the use of any hand held devices while in control of a vehicle. The law takes effect July 1, 2015.
The state has already taken measures to educate the public in order to ensure New Hampshire residents are readily aware of the law before it takes effect. The marketing campaign designed to raise awareness includes adoption of a slogan: Hands Free, a Better Way to Be.
The Hand Held Device Laws Defined
The law is naturally explicit in what constitutes ‘use’ and what falls under the category of a hand held device. The definition of ‘use’ outlines actions including reading and composing electronic messages. The posting of messages or viewing of messages is also considered ‘use’ of a device. According to the law, receiving and engaging in a conversation on a hand held device is included. The act of inputting information into any global positioning system or similar navigation device falls into the category of ‘use’ of a hand held device. These prohibited acts apply when the vehicle is in motion. It is important for New Hampshire residents to realize utilizing these devices while stopped in traffic is also a violation of the new law. The one outlined exception is if an adult driver is using a hand held device to call 911, law enforcement personnel, a fire department, or similar emergency personnel. More on the New Hampshire hands free laws go here.
Adults can use a hands-free system to communicate via cell phone while driving. However, drivers who are under 18 are prohibited from that option. A minor using a hand held device in any capacity while driving will be subject to possible license revocation or suspension.
Penalties and Punishments
Violation of the law by adults will result in fines which escalate with each infraction. This new law includes cell phones, GPS, tablets, iPods, iPads or any other device that requires data entry. A first offense will result in a $100 fine. A second offense can lead to a $250 fine. A subsequent offense can result in a $500 fine if the offenses are within a 12 month period.
Distracted driving incidents have led to sweeping legislation across the country dictating actions of drivers. According to the National Safety Council, one in every four accidents is estimated to be the result of cell phone use.
What to Do If Charged
Anyone pulled over for violation of the new law should be aware of the possible criminal consequences. He or she should also be aware of his or her rights and the defense options that may be possible with the assistance from a New Hampshire criminal defense attorney. As with any traffic violation, there are incidents when a person is wrongfully pulled over or innocent of the infraction which led to police involvement. With the possibility of high fines and/or loss of a driver’s license, each citizen should act to secure legal representation. No case, regardless of the circumstances is a cut and dry conviction. If an accident was involved and injuries incurred, the stakes may be even higher. With help from a New Hampshire criminal defense attorney well-versed in the new laws regarding hand held devices, citizens can rest assured their rights are protected. No one should face any charge or citation alone.
By Shepherd and Osborne