A bill proposed by four Republicans and three Democrats would make two significant changes to New Hampshire’s laws relating to using an electronic device such as a phone while driving. However, the bill would be significantly more reasonable if it had an amendment to rectify a terrible double standard.
House Bill 1617 clarifies that it should be unlawful for a person to use any mobile electronic device while driving. Current law prohibits texting and prohibits the use of a mobile device, which is redundant.
The bill also increases the punishments for being caught by a cop and found guilty of using a mobile device while driving, even while stopped. After two such offenses, the bill directs the commissioner to suspend the license of the driver for 30 days for each offense.
I have long believed that we need fewer traffic laws, not more. One traffic law is all we need, actually. And it’s already on the books. It is called ‘reckless driving‘ and police can, do, and should charge drivers with it when they drive extremely recklessly, putting others on the road in imminent serious danger. If a driver fails to reach this standard, police should not be punishing them. Allowing thousands of traffic laws to remain on the books allows police to punish citizens for driving behavior that is not truly dangerous. It also allows angry cops to give drivers multiple tickets (speeding, tailgating, weaving, passing on the right, obstructed view, etc.) which could cost them thousands of dollars in fines and lawyers fees.
While on the topic of police, it is worth noting that they are the most consistent violators of this common sense law. Cops often use their phones and laptops while driving. To our knowledge, not a single police issued laptop or phone utilizes any sort of program that prevents their use while in a moving vehicle.
An amendment to this bill should be proposed that would direct every police department in New Hampshire to adopt such a program within the near future. An amendment to provide for punishments should also be entertained. Being that they are the very people who are empowered to enforce the laws, they should comply with every law 100% of the time. Violating the very laws you enforce cannot be accepted. Any police officer caught by a citizen with evidence of violating this law should be fined $2,000 and barred from law enforcement for life and should face a year in prison.
Email the House Transportation Committee today and tell them your thoughts on the bill.
Email and call your Representatives and tell them how you and your family feel about HB1617.
Sponsors: Rep.Linda Gould [R], Rep. Patricia Bushway [D], Rep. Laura Telerski [D], Rep. Karel Crawford [R], Rep. Peter Torosian [R], Rep. Walter Stapleton [R], Senator Shannon Chandley [D]