On July 1, 2015 New Hampshire prohibited the use of mobile electronic devices while driving. Under the statute, no person may use a hand-held mobile electronic device capable of providing voice or data communication. In essence, use of mobile phones, tablets, iPads, iWatches, and/or other similar devices is prohibited while driving upon a road or highway, even if the vehicle is temporarily stopped in traffic or a traffic signal. The statute does allow the use of Bluetooth enabled or other hands-free electronic devices to send and receive information so long as the driver does not have to divert his or her attention from the road ahead. This exception allows for drivers to use a cell phone to make or receive phone calls so long as the driver does not need to divert their attention from the roadway.
However, this exception does not apply to drivers under the age of 18. The statute specifically states that a person under age 18 may not use a mobile electronic device even if it is being operated “hands-free”. Accordingly, even if your child’s vehicle has a self-contained hands-free system or your child has a Bluetooth device, he or she may not use the devices to use their cell phone while driving, which includes being temporarily stopped in traffic. If the child is caught violating the statute, he may have his or her license suspended or revoked in addition to a significant fine.
Further, if the minor child is using his or her cell phone, at the time of an accident, the use of the cell phone may be evidence of negligence against him or her in a liability claim. Accordingly, it is important to insure that your son or daughter knows not to use a cell phone while driving under any circumstances and that the statute considers driving to be temporarily stopped in traffic or at a traffic device. If your son or daughter needs to use a cell phone, they should know to pull into a location where it is lawful to park and make sure the vehicle gearshift is in the parked position to insure that the vehicle remains stationary.
In representing injury victims it is important that the attorney be fully aware of the rules of the road and the laws as they apply to automobile safety. Hamblett & Kerrigan has a long history of representing injury victims in automobile/car accident cases. Let Hamblett & Kerrigan use their experience to your advantage.
Kevin P. Rauseo is a former director at Hamblett & Kerrigan P.A. and has since been appointed as a Justice for the New Hampshire Circuit Court. Please feel free to contact another attorney at Hamblett & Kerrigan to discuss your legal issues.