New Hand-Held Cell Phone Ban Looming in New Hampshire

New Hampshire laws. New Hampshire fines and motor vehicle violations.


If you use a cell phone there is another new bill creeping its way through the House of Representatives that you should be aware of: proposed House Bill 546. This bill is called, “An Act relative to the use of hand-held cellular phones while driving”. This is a nanny-stater bill that would ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Also included in this bill is an onerous provision that would allow the police to seize your phone if they stopped “examine the person’s cellular phone to verify the time of the call”. I guess the cops looking at their watches wouldn’t suffice for the bill’s sponsors. Here is the language of the proposed bill:
“265:105-b Prohibited Uses of Cellular Phones While Operating a Motor Vehicle. No person shall operate a motor vehicle on a public way while using any type of hand-held cellular telephone to engage in a call while such vehicle is in motion. An operator of a motor vehicle who holds a cellular telephone to, or in the immediate proximity of, his or her ear while such vehicle is in motion, is presumed to be engaging in a call within the meaning of this section. This limitation shall not prevent persons from using “hands-free” mobile telephones, if they do not require hand-held operation. A police officer charging a person with violating this section is authorized to examine the person’s cellular phone in order to verify the time of the call. Any person who violates this section shall be subject to a fine of $100.”

The Fourth Amendment to the federal Constitution protects us from warrantless seizures and searches by the police. Part 1, Article 19 of the New Hampshire Constitution predates the federal constitution, and provides people in New Hampshire with even greater protections than the Fourth Amendment does. The Fourth Amendment reads as follows:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The Fourth Amendment was developed out of a general revulsion to the warrantless seizures and searches that American colonists had endured at the hands of the British. It protects us from seizures ands searches made without a warrant. This bill would violate the Fourth Amendment to the federal Constitution, as well as Part 1, Article 19 of the New Hampshire Constitution, immediately upon its passage. Advances in technology do not need to lead to the erosion of constitutional rights. The police do not need to seize a phone that they have seen next to a driver’s ear to “verify the time of the call”. They can look down at their watch.

Furthermore, enabling the police to look at a driver’s cell phone would lead to additional snooping by the police into the driver’s texts and emails that are on the phone. Do you want to be questioned about who you called and why? If you think this bill is a bad idea and an unnecessary intrusion into your privacy please make sure your representatives know your thoughts.

Have a safe night.


New Hampshire DWI laws. Call Salem, New Hampshire criminal defense Attorney Mark Stevens today at 1-603-893-0074 for a free consultation for your New Hampshire DWI or "aggravated DWI" charges.

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