New Hampshire OKs cell ban

new_hampshire state flag for cell phone safety storyNew Hampshire drivers won’t be allowed to use handheld cell phones, but they have a while to get used to the idea.

Under an act approved by the legislature May 7, the ban goes into effect July 1, 2015.

In addition to barring adult drivers from holding their cell phones and talking, drivers under the age of 18 will be barred from all mobile phone use. (That provision takes effect upon enactment of the law.)

Fines begin at $100, increase to $250 for second offenses, and then top out at $500.

Update: Gov. Maggie Hassan approved the distracted driving measure July 25, saying the new law tackles “an increasing danger that we must address.” /update

The state safety commissioner told lawmakers it was “the most-needed piece of highway safety legislation to come before you this year.” One legislator called the plan a product of “a nanny state.”

The sponsor was state Rep. Laura Pantelakos, who made previous attempts to get the handheld cell phone ban through the General Court. Pantelakos said she made her 2014 bill broad enough to cover many distracted driving concerns.

The original House bill envisioned a Jan. 1 start date, but the Senate wanted the delay until summer 2015. A Senate panel also added a requirement for public education. The House went along with the changes without debate May 7, sending the distracted driving measure to the governor.

New Hampshire’s ban on text messaging went into effect in 2010. It only prohibited the writing of texts, however — a loophole closed by the upcoming law, which bars a host of activities related to Internet access by smartphones.

2014 distracted driving legislation received strong support from police, transportation and safety representatives, but there also was significant opposition along the personal-freedom lines.

House Minority Leader Gene Chandler said most drivers operated their vehicles safely: “We should be enforcing distracted driving laws as they stand, rather than ending the use of cell phones for everyone.”

State police told a House panel that “as many as 28 percent of New Hampshire’s fatal crashes related to distracted driving.”


  1. Michelle says:

    Sorry… nh is behind as usual. Nv passed this law about 5 yrs ago and fines are stiffer. Like they should be.

  2. I am glad this law will be going into effect. Just in my neighborhood alone, I cannot count how many times, I have seen kids, or pets nearly getting killed because of someone not paying attention to the road. They are paying attention to their text, or their damn phones. I have witnessed accidents that could have been avoided, if someone was not DRIVING AND TEXTING at the same time. So lawmakers I applaud you for passing this law.

    • Texting is already illegal and, according to your comment, has had no effect on drivers. Cell phones are no more distracting that children in a car and those who passed this childish legislation were voted out of office 4 to 1 in 2014. When Hassan is history, it will be time to repeal the statute and restore freedom in New Hampshire.

  3. Tom Kane says:

    In a state where we are allowed to ride motorcycles without a helmet ( I ride, but wear one), drive a car, truck or other vehicle without seat belts, buy alcohol that is supplied by the state, and sold on most of the major highways in the state. This law is absolutely stupid. More lives will be saved by requiring helmets and seat belts and the state should get out of the booze business. This state has become a liberals paradise, and live free or die should be eliminated from the license plates.

  4. This law is the most ridiculous law ever, ever created! ALL and I Mean ALL of the People in the House and Senate should be ashamed of themselves! Now that you’ve passed this one, might I add for more REVENUE, because we have a state spender at the helm approving these. Maggie you need to GO! This is not the way to answer or fix something that is nothing. 18 and under was ok. I have been driving with a cell phone since they were installed in cars!! This state is way too liberal lately and its really sad. We are the most over ticketed state in the country! Why?? REVENUE for our Democrats in NH to spend. Cant wait to get a staunch conservative back in Concord!

    • Should be sufficient reason to vote out, if not impeach, every single legislator and the governor who voted for this outrageous insult.

  5. I suppose police are exempt from this law because they have special skills at not being distracted?

  6. Joel Price says:

    Now you need to pass a law prohibiting applying make-up & holding dogs on your lap while driving

  7. Tom in Portsmouth, NH says:

    Dear NH POLITICIANS who passed this law: THANK YOU! This law should’ve been passed a long time ago.

  8. Dear NH POLITICIANS who passed this law: LEAVE. Pick any one of the Nanny-States that surrounding us and go live there. What part of LIVE FREE OR DIE don’t you understand?!? LIVE. FREE. OR. DIE!

    Look at NH’s, already very low, Deaths-Per-Year caused by motor-vehicles. Over 1/3 are caused by drinking and driving, and another large portion are from motorcycle deaths. I can guarantee our winter roads contribute to many deaths caused. I CAN’T STAND this issue in my state. our motto is not: “Live less Free so we can incrementally minimize the risk we Die”. Our motto is: Live free. or DIE. It’s our proud way of life in this State. Another reason i can’t stand this issue is because its just plain bullsh*t. If you cant drive a vehicle while talking on a cell phone you shouldnt be driving at all.

    Of course police support this, it gives them more future “crimes to fight”, creating a higher “need” for police, and all the new fines boost the state revenue which fund their paychecks.

    Rep. Laura Pantelakos sponsored this bill.. why? Because it will get public attention. So she can pat herself on the back “for saving the world”. and all her fellow-nanny’s will pat her on the back. she can then wear this bill like a badge of some political achievement.
    What’s funny is when you go and look back at her voting history from a few years back. It seems to be a political strategy of hers to choose NOT TO VOTE on a lot of the “potentially controversial” legislation. Apparently no guts to give a Yea or Nea on issues that she would have to stand by on her principles.

    • Bryan, I loved your reply. Perhaps Laura would like to run for Governor elsewhere —

      “State police told a House panel that “as many as 28 percent of New Hampshire’s fatal crashes related to distracted driving.” Don’t they know what percent are on cell phones? A bee can distract a driver. There are so many distracting things that can happen. That statement by the State Police was useless drivel.

  9. It makes more sense to crack down on the underage drivers, being one myself and so many of us drive terribly, but ban even talking — for adults? Seems a bit heavy

    • You will notice, as you continue to gain experience, that there are MANY adult drivers who have poor driving skills and cannot safely “talk” and drive. The next time you see a car weaving all over the road, slowing and speeding up incessantly, stopped at a green light not moving, or crossing an intersection without looking at cross traffic (even on a green light you need to check ALL traffic), check to see if they have a cell phone next to their ear (or worst, are texting). Keeping phones our of their hands will save lives.

      • Al Cinamon says:

        A typical driver. They always love to point the finger outward. How about pointing the finger inward once in awhile? I would be interested to look at your driving record … any tickets or crashes?

  10. Al Cinamon says:

    “barring adult drivers from holding their cell phones and talking,” And talking?..I doubt that. Who added that, I wonder? If it were true, NH would be the first State to actually ban talking on a cell phone while driving and that would be major news!!

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