In less than a month, New Hampshire’s Hands-Free Law will go into effect. In short, starting July 1, you can’t use any sort of handheld electronic device while driving, even if you’re at a stoplight. The fines for violations are steep, too: $100 for a first offense, $250 for a second and $500 for a third offense.
If you’re curious why this is needed, it’s a legitimate health and safety issue. Over the last four years alone, there have been 116 fatal crashes in N.H. related to distracted driving.
About the law: The Hands-Free Law, HB 1360, was passed during the last legislative session. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of what the law means, courtesy of HandsFreeNH.com:
- No use of handheld electronic devices capable of providing voice or data communication while driving or temporarily halted in traffic for a stop sign or traffic signal or other momentary delays
- This includes cell phones, GPS, tablets, iPods, iPads or other devices that require data entry
- Emergency calls to 911 or other public safety agencies will be allowed
- Bluetooth or other hands-free electronic devices will be allowed
- One hand non-cellular 2-way radio use will be allowed
- Teen drivers under the age of 18 will not be allowed to use any electronic devices (handheld or not) except to report an emergency. Anyone violating this will be subject to penalties and license suspension or revocation.
What you need to do: If your car doesn’t have Bluetooth capability built in and you still want to use your phone while driving, you have a few options. First, you can go the simpler route and purchase a Bluetooth car speakerphone like this. These connect to your phone wirelessly and allow you to send and receive phone calls and texts. Second, you can buy a new Bluetooth-enabled car stereo like this and have it installed.
If you don’t want to, or can’t, use those options, you’ll have to wait until you get where you’re going to make any phone calls. It’s all about making our roads safer for everyone. We hope you have a safe drive.