- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 7, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Hand-held cellphone use would be banned while driving in New Hampshire in mid-2015 under a bill on its way to the governor for signature.

The House passed the bill Wednesday without debate. If signed, the change would take effect July 1, 2015, and require the state to conduct an education campaign to alert drivers of the law.

The bill would continue to allow adults to talk on cellphones while driving if they use hands-free phones, devices built into the vehicle and two-way radios. The bill also would ban all cellphone use by minors behind the wheel.

The ban would apply while drivers are stopped temporarily, such as at a red light, but not if they have pulled over and stopped. The bill doesn’t apply in an emergency.

Offenders would face a $100 fine for a first offense, a $250 fine for a second offense and a $500 fine for subsequent offenses within 24 months.

State law currently bans typing and sending text messages while driving, but does not prohibit reading text messages, surfing the Internet, dialing phones or programming GPS devices while driving. The bill would prohibit those actions.

Gov. Maggie Hassan’s spokesman said she probably will sign the bill.

Twelve states prohibit drivers from using hand-held cellphones and 41 states ban text messaging, according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Council. Six other states prohibit texting by novice drivers.

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