New Hampshire now bans using hand-held electronic devices, notably cell phones, while driving. The hands free law went into effect July 1, 2015.
Thirteen other states including Vermont, New York, Connecticut and New Jersey already ban the use of electronic devices while driving.
The New Hampshire law also bans cell phone use during brief stops at red lights and during other momentary delays. Under the law, there’s no violation in pulling over to the side of the road to make a call or text with a hand-held device, as long as the vehicle is off the road and stopped.
What Does NH Hands Free Law Cover
The New Hampshire hands free law includes cell phones, GPS, iPods, tablets or any other device requiring data entry. This covers any other devices which requires surfing the internet, playing video games, or entering data on hand-held devices.
Supporters claim the law makes New Hampshire roads safer for all users including bicyclists and pedestrians. Opponents say it takes away the “Live Free or Die” character of the state and increases the “nanny state.”
Penalties for Cell Phone Use while Driving
Violating the law carries a fine of $100 for the first offense, plus a court imposed penalty assessment. Repeat offenders face a $250 fine for the second violation in a 24 month period and $500 for the third offense within two years. Penalty assessments also pile on top of those violations.
Drivers under the age of 18 may not use the hands-free option and can face the above fines as well as license suspension or revocation for any mobile device use other than to report an emergency to 911.
The law, New Hampshire RSA 265:79-c, allows use of Bluetooth enabled or other hands free devices that are physically or electronically integrated into the vehicle “provided the driver does not have to divert his or her attention from the road ahead.”
Almost every law has exceptions. The NH “hands-free” law allows 911 calls even while driving in order to report an emergency.
Distractions cause Accidents
Why does the NH hands free law appear on my personal injury page? Distracted driving of any type causes accidents and death on the highways as noted in other articles. And in fact even where cell phone use is legal, after an accident the use of a cell phone by the driver can be found to be negligent conduct by the driver and the cause of an accident.
After an accident always look for signs of distraction by the other driver.
This article has been updated and will be updated in the future if needed. Some New Hampshire legislators are already talking about reconsidering this new law in January of 2016.
Photo Credit: Some Guy in Traffic on his Cell Phone” by Jim Legans, Jr., on flickr. Creative Commons license.