Hands Free Law in Nashua, NH
In an effort to enhance road safety and combat distracted driving, New Hampshire implemented its Hands-Free Law effective July 1, 2015. This legislation prohibits the use of handheld electronic devices while operating a vehicle, which means it is unlawful to use cell phones, GPS, tablets, iPads, or any other device that requires you to take your hands off the wheel. However, drivers over 18 will not be penalized for using Bluetooth or other similar “hands-free” electronic devices.
Moreover, drivers who opt to pull over to the side of the road where it is legal to do so will not be penalized, provided that the vehicle remains stationary. However, if stopped by law enforcement for texting or talking on the phone or entering data into a GPS or other device while driving, you will likely be fined. If you have been accused of committing a vehicle violation, seek the experienced legal guidance of Hayes Law, PLLC. With our years of experience and tailored defense strategies, we have helped countless clients obtain favorable outcomes and are prepared to help you.
What Does the New Hampshire Hands-Free Law Cover?
New Hampshire’s Hands-Free Law, RSA 265:79-c, prohibits using handheld electronic devices while driving. This includes mobile phones, tablets, gaming devices, and other electronic devices that require manual manipulation. The law permits the use of hands-free electronic devices while driving, which includes voice-activated systems, Bluetooth-enabled devices, and built-in vehicle communication systems. Utilizing these hands-free options allows drivers to stay connected while keeping their focus on the road.
The law does provide certain exceptions for the use of handheld devices while driving. These exceptions include contacting emergency services, law enforcement officers performing their official duties, and drivers who are parked or safely stopped off the road.
Penalties for Violating Hands-Free Law
To discourage drivers from violating the hands-free law, New Hampshire imposes penalties for non-compliance. These penalties may vary depending on the number of offenses, including the following:
- First offense: A $100 fine for the first violation.
- Second offense: A $250 fine for the second offense within a 24-month period.
- Third and subsequent offenses: A fine of $500 for further violations within a 24-month period.
Failing to comply with the hands-free law could be brought as a civil offense under either reckless driving, vehicular assault, or negligent driving, under RSA 265:79, 79-a or 79-b, respectively, or, if severe enough, could become a criminal offense as defined in RSA 626:2.
Nashua, New Hampshire Cases
The following includes various cases involving violations of the Hands-Free law in New Hampshire:
State v. Dion. 164 N.H. 544 (2013)
Citing RSA 265:105–a (Supp.2012), which prohibits “text messaging” while driving, the defendant asserts that talking on a cell phone while driving is not prohibited and, therefore, cannot constitute the requisite blameworthy conduct. Contrary to the defendant’s argument, however, conduct that is, itself, not prohibited, including use of a cell phone while driving, may constitute the requisite blameworthy conduct when such use results in inattention or distraction. Indeed, “the state had no burden to show that driving while using a cell phone is always risky or dangerous, or that it, of itself, creates a substantial and unjustifiable risk, only that [the defendant’s] use of a cell phone in this case created a substantial and unjustifiable risk because it interfered with her ability to maintain a proper lookout for [pedestrians].”
The issue here is not whether cell phone use while driving is per se blameworthy. Rather, the issue is whether inattention caused by cell phone use or any other “legal” activity, resulting in the failure to avoid a pedestrian in a crosswalk, demonstrates a level of carelessness the seriousness of which should be “apparent to anyone who shares the community’s general sense of right and wrong.”
State v. Belleville. 166 N.H. 58 (2014)
[T]he difference between recklessness and negligence is that a person is reckless if he is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial risk that a material element of the crime exists or will result from his conduct, whereas one is negligent when he fails to become aware of a substantial risk that an essential element of the crime exists or will result from his conduct.
Contact the New Hampshire Hands-Free Violations Lawyer at Hayes Law, PLLC
New Hampshire’s hands-free law is a vital step towards creating safer roads by curbing distracted driving. By banning handheld device usage while driving, the law emphasizes the importance of undivided attention on the road. If you are stopped and cited, work with Hayes Law, PLLC to ensure your best interests are protected, and you are fully informed of all your legal options.